Global alumina market surplus likely to grow in 2012 – Rusal

21 June 2012 13:52  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The surplus of alumina in the global market is expected to increase in 2012, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Global alumina production in 2012 is estimated at 98.4m tonnes – up by 7.8m tonnes from the 90.6m tonnes produced in 2011, said Aleksey Tarasov, head of the caustic soda department at Russian aluminium manufacturer Rusal.

Tarasov was speaking at the ICIS World Chlor-alkali conference, held in Singapore on 21–22 June. The event is organised by ICIS and Tecnon OrbiChem.

However, Tarasov said global alumina consumption in 2012 is estimated at 95.4m tonnes – an increase of 5.7m tonnes from the 89.7m tonnes recorded in 2011.

“In [the] Asia-Pacific, [a] surplus [appeared] in 2012 due to [the] continued increase of production in China,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic region, the significant surplus of alumina is the result of Brazilian alumina plants reaching full capacity, as well as production rate reductions at aluminium smelters in the US and Europe in 2011, he added.

Alumina is used in the production in aluminium metal.

“The global alumina balance may be affected by the uncertainties of bauxite supply due to [the] New Guinea mining code and the restriction of exports from Indonesia,” Tarasov said.

Bauxite is an aluminium ore and the main source of aluminium.

In addition, cutbacks or idling at alumina producers because of rising raw material and energy costs – as well as the delay in the commissioning of new alumina plants in Vietnam and Australia – may also affect the global alumina balance, he said.

The cost of caustic soda – a raw material for alumina production – is the third-largest component of alumina site costs, after fuel and bauxite costs, Tarasov said.

“In 2011, caustic soda costs were 14% of the world average alumina site cost, which is the highest share since 2005,” he said.

Alumina production is the largest sole industry consuming caustic soda, accounting for more than 14% of global caustic soda demand, he added.  

In 2011, total global aluminium consumption was estimated at 45.1m tonnes – up by 10% from 2010. A 7% increase to 48.2m tonnes is expected in 2012, Tarasov said.

“China accounts for approximately two-thirds of growth, and [the] world consumption increment will depend largely on the strength of the real estate sector and the ability to generate growth in the consumer segment,” he said.

The construction sector is the biggest end-consumer of aluminium, accounting for 26% of global aluminium demand, followed by the automotive, electrotechnical, packaging and consumer goods sectors at 17%, 14% and 11% respectively, according to Tarasov.

By: Feliana Widjaja

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