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The U.S. import of alumina is on the rise in the first three month of 2017, exports drop on refinery shutdown
The U.S. primary aluminium industry is slowly picking up the pieces on the back of positive expectations generated by the Trump’s ministry. Along with the fall of the primary industry a number of alumina refineries in the U.S. have closed down in 2016, including the shutdowns of the alumina refineries in Gregory, TX, by Sherwin Alumina Co. and in Point Comfort, TX, by Alcoa Corp. An analysis of the foreign trade patterns of alumina for the first quarters of 2016 and 2017 (calendar year) will show us the changed occurred in the alumina market in the U.S.
According to the latest report from U.S. Geological Survey, imports of alumina by the U.S. during Q1 2017 were 308,000 t, 16% more than the amount in the fourth quarter of 2016 and 17% more than those in the first quarter of 2016 (fig. 2). The leading alumina suppliers to the U.S. during Q1 2017 were Brazil (38%), Australia (32%), and Jamaica (12%).
Exports of alumina during Q1 2017 were 105,000 t, 41% less than those in the Q4 2016 and 75% less than those in Q1 2016. The leading destinations for alumina export from the U.S. during the first quarter of 2017 were UAE (30%), and the Netherlands (26%).
As indicated by our estimated data, the cost of alumina import in Q1 2016 stood at an estimated USD 73 million. The cost is estimated to be about USD 104 million in the first quarter of 2017. The revenue from export is estimated to be at about USD 55 million in the first quarter of 2017.
The drop in alumina export and the rise in alumina imports were due to the 2016 shutdowns of the alumina refineries mentioned above. The closure of two refineries had a significant impact on the foreign trade of alumina in the U.S.
On a positive note, Noranda Bauxite & Alumina Inc. announced that it would upgrade its 1.2-million-metric-ton-per-year (Mt/yr) alumina refinery at Gramercy, LA, to produce more chemical-grade alumina. The $35 million project is expected to be complete by 2019.
Jiuquan Iron and Steel Group announced that it would restart the Aluminum Partners of Jamaica (Alpart) alumina refinery in Jamaica in June. The 1.67-Mt/yr alumina refinery and adjacent 4.9-Mt/yr bauxite mine were shut down in 2009 by Rusal Plc, its previous owner, which was later bought by Jiuquan. The plant restarted operation in June and is expected to return to its annual production capacity in early 2018. The alumina market in the U.S. is expected to remain in trade deficit till these facilities come into operations in next two years.Get fresh Aluminium data and insights
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