China’s bauxite imports show 4% Y-o-Y rise in Jan-Feb’24 due to domestic refineries dependency on overseas ores

AL Circle

China customs data showed that the country's bauxite imports from January to February 2024 totalled 24.4794 million tonnes, reflecting an annual increase of 4 per cent. 

China’s bauxite imports show 4% Y-o-Y rise in Jan-Feb’24 due to domestic refineries dependency on overseas ores


In individual months, China imported 13.2019 million tonnes and11.2775 million tonnes of bauxite. The import in January was 11.24 per cent up month-on-month and 7.15 per cent higher year-on-year, while the import in February edged a month-on-month fall of 14.58 per cent but grew 0.53 per cent year-on-year. 

Sources of imports

Guinea, being the highest supplier of bauxite to China, provided 9.2859 million tonnes in January, which was 12.95 per cent up M-o-M and 1.52 per cent up Y-o-Y. From Australia, China imported 3.4759 million tonnes – 9.66 per cent higher M-o-M and 50.89 per cent more than in the previous year. From Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia, Côte d'Ivoire, and Laos, China secured 170,800 tonnes, 102,700 tonnes, 93,100 tonnes, 50,900 tonnes, and 22,600 tonnes, respectively.

In February, China imported 8.8903 million tonnes of bauxite from Guinea, which was 4.26 per cent down M-o-M but 12.51 per cent up Y-o-Y. China's bauxite imports from Australia were 2.0106 million tonnes – 42.15 per cent less M-o-M but slightly up by 0.65 per cent over the year. In February, Ghana emerged as the third highest exporter of bauxite to China, surpassing Turkey. Ghana exported 123,200 tonnes of bauxite, while Turkey exported 113,900 tonnes, down by 33.31 per cent M-o-M. From Brazil, Laos, and Malaysia, China imported 60,300 tonnes, 55,500 tonnes, 23,700 tonnes of bauxite. 

In-depth analysis

Thus, China's combined import volume from Guinea during January-February was 18.1761 million tonnes, which accounted for 74.25 per cent of China's total imports. The bauxite imported from Guinea in January and February was shipped from mid-November to mid-January. 

Total imports from Australia in two months were 5.4865 million tonnes, accounting for 22.41 per cent of the total imports. China's total imports from Turkey, Brazil, Ghana, Malaysia, Laos and Côte d'Ivoire from January to February amounted to 816,800 tonnes, which accounted for 3.34 per cent of the total. 

China's bauxite imports grew year-on-year due to increased demand for alumina production. Although domestic bauxite production was on a downtrend, alumina refineries needed raw materials. Many mines in Shanxi and Henan were closed before the Chinese New Year holidays, and there was no sign of resumption.

Future projection

SMM expects China's bauxite trade from the countries above will remain active in 2024, and the imports from Australia will rebound. Due to the escalated production of domestic alumina, Chinese refineries are increasingly becoming dependent on imported ores as there has been an apparent shortage of domestic bauxite supply due to production suspension at some mines before the Chinese New Year holidays.

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