China 2023 aluminium output hits record high but growth rate slows

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s primary aluminium output reached a record high in 2023 but the growth rate slowed, data showed on Wednesday, amid weather-related production curbs at smelters in the country’s southwest.

The world’s biggest aluminium producer churned out 41.59 million metric tons of primary aluminium last year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Output was boosted by strong operations in some of China’s main producing regions, amid profitable conditions, and new projects that came online.

However, the annual growth rate of 3.7% marked a third consecutive year of slowing, the data showed.

Output in 2023 grew modestly as capacity neared a government-imposed ceiling, and was affected by power shortages in the country’s southwest, state-backed research house Antaike said in a report.

China in 2018 set a national capacity cap of 45 million tons for aluminium as part of its efforts to control energy consumption in the energy-intensive sector.

The industry had established total annual production capacity of 44.43 million tons by the end of 2023, Antaike said.

A drought in Yunnan, the country’s fourth-biggest aluminium-producing region, led to insufficient hydropower supply and local smelters were asked to cut production.

For December, China produced 3.59 million tons, up 4.9% from a year earlier, the data showed.

Production of 10 nonferrous metals – including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel – rose 7.1% to 74.7 million tons in 2023, a record high.

Output in December increased 7.3% from a year earlier to 6.59 million tons. The other non-ferrous metals are tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium.

(Reporting by Siyi Liu and Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Tom Hogue and Edmund Klamann)