AluNews - June 2017

Aluminium Capacity Cuts in China Likely to Surpass Initial Estimates

Aluminium Insider - June 28th, 2017

According to reports by domestic media, aluminium producers in the People's Republic of China may make cuts to excess capacity that are deeper than initially expected.

Sources at Xinjiang Jiarun Resources told Chinese media that its second-phase 150 thousand metric ton smelter will cut capacity per government requirements by Friday. Another source, namely Liu Lingan of Baichuan, told a domestic publication that the 150 thousand metric tons per annum of capacity represented roughly half of Xinjiang Jiarun's illegal capacity. He went on to say that the current cuts come in addition to a prior reduction of 20 thousand metric tons per annum.

As deadlines in the government's supply-side reform program for the aluminium industry loom, more and more cuts are being made. The local verification phase begins on Friday, prompting Shandong Weiqiao Group to commence the curtailment of the recommended 250 thousand metric tons per annum of capacity last Tuesday, with completion of these cuts to be accomplished by the drop-dead date. While substantial, the cuts made are still a drop in the bucket of Weiqiao's 8.4 million metric tons per annum of aluminium capacity, two million metric tons per annum of it operates in contravention with Chinese law.

According to analysts, the cuts Weiqiao is making are predominately centered in the low-power cell capacity, replacing it with new, more efficient smelting capacity. Though the overall cuts made are not of a significant volume, experts say that the reduction is still significant due to the commitment made by producers to comply with enforcement actions.

China's current illegal production capacity is estimated to be 6.22 million metric tons per annum, with between two million and three million metric tons per annum on the chopping block for the current year. Such cuts will drop China's total aluminium capacity to 42 million metric tons per annum.

Russia's Rusal plans 19 pct aluminium output boost by 2021

Hellenic Shipping News - June 15th, 2017

Russian aluminium giant Rusal said it plans to boost its production by 19 percent from 2016 levels to 4.4 million tonnes by 2021, amid rising global demand.

Rusal, which is controlled by Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, said in a presentation it expected global demand for aluminium to grow by 4 to 5 percent per year until 2021 amid higher demand for "green" aluminium and advanced alloys.

The Hong Kong-listed company also said it aims to use 100 percent non-carbon energy sources for its smelting assets by 2020, up 5 percentage points from the current level.

Rusal also hopes to increase sales of value-added products by 47 percent compared with 2016 to 2.5 million tonnes in 2020, it said in its May presentation published on its website.

Global demand for primary aluminium is expected to rise by 13.5 million tonnes over the next five years to 73.2 million tonnes, it added.

Aluminium consumption is relatively low in Russia, at 5.6 kg per capita a year compared with the global average of 8 kg, and Rusal hopes that the total annual consumption will rise to 2.1 million tonnes by 2021 in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

This Moscow-dominated group of post-Soviet countries and Russia currently consume 1.4 million tonnes of aluminium a year, including 1 million tonnes of primary and secondary metal and about 400,000 tonnes of imported semi-finished products.

Samalaju Aluminium Smelter 2 in full production since 2016, says GM

The Borneo Post - June 15th, 2017

Press Metal's third aluminium smelter (Samalaju Aluminium Smelter 2) in Sarawak hit full production capacity of 640,000MT per annum in 2016 after it commenced commercial operation in 2015.

Press Metal Berhad group general manager for Sarawak operations, Choa Wei Keong, said the plant operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and they had a workforce of around 2,000 at the plant.

"The smelting plant uses about 1,000 megawatts of energy per day to produce the aluminium products," he told BAT7 at the smelting plant at Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu yesterday.

He revealed that the plant produces 10kg and 22kg aluminium ingots for export and for use locally.

However, at the moment they cannot go higher than such production capacity unless there is more power supply in the state, he added.

"At the moment, we use the power supplied by Bakun Hydro Dam and unless there are more power sources and alternatives we cannot generate more production."

Choa also revealed that they are the biggest employer at Samalaju Industrial Park and continue to provide training and development to their staff to enhance their skills.

He further said that they still need highly-skilled workers like engineers from China and other countries to work in more delicate areas of the production line.

Choa added that they also focus on their corporate social responsibility and are creating more awareness of their operation in Mukah and Bintulu to mitigate negative perceptions.

"We have done many activities so that we can also give back to the public and tell people that our operations are safe (for them) and also the surrounding environment," he said.

On the aluminium ingots produced by Samalaju Aluminium Smelter Plant, he said they had been listed on the London Metal Exchange as a high-grade primary aluminium product.

With a smelting capacity of 760,000 tonnes and an extrusion capacity of 190,000 tonnes per annum, Press Metal is the largest producer of aluminium in South East Asia, he added.

Half of Damaged Aluminium Production Back Online at Alcoa's Portland Smelter

Aluminium Insider - June 9th, 2017

Another step in the recovery of Alcoa's Portland plant was taken this week, as the firm announced that half the capacity it lost in a power blackout six months ago is now back online.

The Portland smelter has been running at about one-third capacity since December, when a storm interrupted power to the plant, causing molten aluminium to cool and harden in the midst of the production process. The outage and resulting damage put 200 thousand metric tons per annum of production capacity out of commission, leaving the plant to limp along with the remaining 100 thousand metric tons of capacity.

"Getting to the half way point in our bid to restore the business has been a big task, but what I have seen up to now gives me great confidence in our ability to deliver the plan," opined Plant Manager Peter Chellis in a statement released by the plant.

The smelter in Victoria has clawed all the way back with no small help from the government. Earlier this year the state and federal governments extended a A$240-million (US$182 million) package that will keep the smelter in operation for at least the next four years. Such a deal was offered in hopes that the plant would not be yet another casualty in an area desperate for jobs after the loss of a spate of manufacturing plants and an energy plant in recent months and years. The deal is contingent upon the plant remaining open until at least 2021 and turning out aluminium at at least ninety percent of pre-damage levels.

In addition to the fiscal aid package, the Portland smelter and local energy provider AGL Energy came to an agreement on a four-year deal to provide the plant with 510 mW, or roughly one-tenth of the state's total energy consumption, at below-market prices.

Expect FY18 aluminium production at 1.5-1.6 million tonne: Vedanta

Money Control - June 2nd, 2017

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Tom Albanese, CEO of Vedanta spoke about the latest happenings in his company and the sector.

We had a good year overall, said Albanese. "We have been focussing on aluminium business", he added.

He further said that aluminium profitability improved in FY17 owing to capacity enhancement.

We have been ramping up aluminium assets from the last 18 months, he said.

"We have been seeing aluminium demand globally has continued to be robust. In India it has also been robust and we have also seen that over supply that was coming out of China is beginning to taper off", said Albanese.

He also mentioned that they don't have enough bauxite for aluminium production in India.

He expects FY18 aluminium production at 1.5-1.6 million tonne approximately.

Nalco to Open New Bauxite Mine at Panchpatmali

Aluminium Insider - June 1st, 2017

A senior official in India's government told domestic media this week that state-owned National Aluminium Company Limited (Nalco) recently begun the process of opening a new mine at its operations in Panchpatmali.

Citing the delays encountered by the firm in obtaining a new mining area, the unnamed official said such a move would help Nalco maintain its current bauxite production of 6.8 million tons per annum, which is the company's total in the previous fiscal year.

Though Nalco has certain mining rights at other locations, bureaucratic obstacles have kept the firm from finally exploiting those resources. Nalco obtained a reservation in the neighboring Pottangi bauxite reserves in 2015, but not a single shovel has pierced the ground to unearth the estimated 70 million tons lying beneath it because the firm has yet to navigate the bureaucratic maze to its end.

This fact makes opening a new mine at Panchpatmali a requirement, opined the unnamed government official, as the firm's aluminium and alumina production will all but founder without it. Nalco has already announced plans to spend US$1.87 billion on a three-year project to install a fifth potline at its smelter in Angul, boosting production by an estimated 600 thousand tons per annum, pushing the company's overall capacity to one million metric tons.

In order to meet the dramatic ramp-up in production, Nalco will add to refinery capacity by one million tons per annum, boosting its company-wide output capacity to 3.275 million tons per annum. Such an increase would provide Nalco with sufficient alumina to power its own smelters with enough left over to sell on the international alumina market, the official explained.

The official went on to say that the mines to be opened at Panchpatmali would only provide a short-term solution, as Nalco still intends to tap into Pottangi's reserves at some point in the near future. He closed by saying that bauxite sources for the long term must be a priority for India's government if Nalco is to achieve the stated goal of an annual production total of one million tons per annum by the end of the decade.