KUALA LUMPUR: China imported 14 times more bauxite from Malaysia in November than in March after an export ban in Indonesia stopped supplies of the ore to the world’s biggest consumer of industrial metals.
China bought a total of 2.57 million tons of bauxite last month, with 42 per cent sourced from Australia, the customs data show. India was the third-largest supplier with 560,518 tons.
Malaysia produced 208,770 tons of bauxite last year, compared with 2,040 tons in 2004, according to data from the Minerals and Geoscience Department in Kuala Lumpur. The department gave no figures for 2014
China bought 679,287 tons from the Southeast Asian country, up 6.1 per cent from 640,200 tons a month earlier and compared with 48,594 tons in March, according to data released by the customs administration in Beijing today. Imports from March through November were 2.6 million tons, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Bauxite is used to extract aluminum.
Indonesia, the world’s third-largest supplier of bauxite in 2013, halted shipments of raw ores in January, including nickel and copper, seeking to spur investment in domestic processing and transform the nation into a producer of high-value metal. The curb helped boost nickel and aluminum prices in London. Imports from Malaysia will probably expand to 10 million tons next year, says Wan Ling, the Beijing-based assistant chief representative in China for CRU, a researcher.
“We understand that the bauxite mining companies in Malaysia used to do iron ore mining, but prices are not good, so they’ve switched to bauxite,” Wan said by phone today. China’s “demand for bauxite is slightly increasing too.”