World Economy

China Copper, Aluminum Output Rises

China Copper, Aluminum Output Rises China Copper, Aluminum Output Rises

Chinese production of refined copper rose 9.7 percent from a year ago in March as smelters expanded capacity amid an increase in supply of raw material.

China churned out 636,351 tons of refined copper in March, down from a record 832,618 tons in December 2014, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday, CNBC reported.

The bureau last month said January-February production was 1.2 million tons, but did not give monthly breakdowns. In the first quarter, output increased 14.3 percent year-on-year to 1.85 million tons.

March output was likely higher than February when the Lunar New Year holidays slowed operations at smelters, said Yang Changhua, senior analyst at state-backed research firm Antaike.

“March output was higher mainly because of expanded capacity. We expect output to rise in April from March,” Yang said. Industry sources have estimated at least 300,000 tons of annual capacity would start production this year.

Record imports of raw material copper concentrate in March also supported metal production.

  Aluminum Reaches Record

Meanwhile, production of primary aluminum reached a record 2.56 million tons in March, up from the previous high of 2.18 million tons hit in December 2014. Output rose 8 percent year-on-year.

In the first quarter, aluminum production climbed 7.5 percent on-year to 7.51 million tons.

China Merchants Futures has estimated China will add 4.3 million tons of annual aluminum capacity this year, with the bulk in the first and fourth quarters.

Steady prices supported production at smelters. Spot metal prices in China rose nearly 3 percent in March.

  Other Metals

Production of refined nickel climbed 18.4 percent on-year to 28,320 tons in March. Output in the first quarter surged 27 percent from the year before to 81,870 tons.

Some nickel producers face output cuts in the near term due to low prices and weak domestic demand.

Refined tin output fell 10.6 percent from the year before to 13,250 tons in March due to weak prices. In the first quarter, production dropped 2.9 percent on-year to 39,297 tons, despite strong imports of tin ores and concentrates.