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Chinese bauxite spot prices rocket higher

Chinese bauxite prices have jumped again in June, continuing the uptrend since May as the Chinese government ramps up efforts to stamp out polluting operations.

Chinese bauxite spot prices rocket higher in mid-June as the government targets remaining illegal calcining operations to further stamp out polluting facilities, which will slash yet more supply.

Mining operations in major bauxite-producing regions Shanxi and Guizhou were mostly suspended in May as the central government ramped up anti-pollution control. Under the newly enforced measures, calcining and processing plants in Shanxi and Tianjin were also affected.

Although the majority of plants that did not meet environmental standards were shut, some continued to operate illegally at night, two Europe-based traders told IM.

However, the Chinese environmental teams in Tianjin and Shanxi are continuing to undertake inspections in order to control pollution levels. Shanxi government announced on 15 June that it will carry out a special large-scale investigation on all operations in the province. The government has also encouraged locals to report any illegal operations.

«Some small unlicenced producers in Xingang, Tianjin, continue to produce during the night. The Government Environmental Team in Hebei and Tinjin have been tipped off by other suppliers that this continues to happen and the government is now focused on these suppliers and their customers,» one Europe-based distributor told IM.
As a result, many more plants are expected to shut down in the coming weeks, market sources said.

Amid heightening anti-pollution control, and the resulting suspension of production, bauxite stock levels are said to be depleting quickly, which has supported prices over the past two weeks.

Spot prices of 85% refractory-grade bauxite (85% Al2O3/2.0/3.15-3.2/0-6mm) rose to $380-390/tonne on an FOB Xingang basis, while 86% bauxite increased to $390-400/tonne, both grades gained $40 compared to a fortnight ago, according to IM’s assessment on 15 June.

Smaller volumes of 85% bauxite were reported to have traded at above $400/tonne in Europe and Asia, but these could not be verified at the time of publication.

87% bauxite held unchanged at $400-430/tonne, 15 June, while 88% was assessed at $430-470/tonne, up from $430-450/tonne previously, both on an FOB Xingang basis.

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