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Chinese Alumina Prices Rangebound Despite Refinery Restart News

Mar 14, 2016

Chinese spot alumina prices were steady Thursday in thin trade, with offer levels also rangebound despite news of a planned refinery restart in South China. 

The Platts ex-works Shanxi alumina spot assessment continued Thursday at Yuan 1,890/mt ($290/mt) full cash payment terms, with Henan spot alumina also unchanged at Yuan 1,920-1,930/mt cash. 

Sellers' offers were stable at mostly Yuan 1,950/mt cash in both provinces. 

Down south in Guangxi, refiners' quotes also continued at Yuan 1,850/mt cash, with tradeable prices pegged around Yuan 1,800/mt. 

Galuminium Group, which operates an 800,000 mt/year smelter grade alumina refinery in Guangdong province, completely shut down in December 2015 due to poor market conditions to conduct an overhaul. 

It now plans to restart 400,000 mt/year capacity in April, a company source said. 

"The news of the restart has put a halt on spot alumina offers rising further, but there is no sign of prices going down yet," a South China smelter source said. "We'll have to wait and see how that impacts the market in the near term." 

A Beijing trader said Galuminium's restart impact would be "minimal, as the quantity is small...the majority of the refinery shutdowns earlier were all in the north, in millions of mt, and there's no news of any restarts there yet, so prices can still edge higher." 

A Shanxi refiner said Thursday he was currently sold out of March spot alumina, and would only offer spot for April delivery at the end of the month. He expects offers can likely reach Yuan 2,000-2,100/mt by then. 

A Henan refiner agreed, adding that prices were currently steady and market participants needed to see some stabilization before more restarts would surface, and more buyers would emerge. 

The front-month aluminum contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at Yuan 11,200 mt on Thursday, down from Yuan 11,240/mt last week, but up from Yuan 10,570/mt at the start of February.