China’s production of secondary aluminium will almost triple by the end of this decade if all announced recycling projects come to fruition, Rusal said, as China caps primary smelting capacity and looks to reduce emissions. Russia’s Rusal is the largest aluminium producer outside of China.
If all announced recycling projects materialise, China’s secondary aluminium production will grow from 7.6 million tonnes in 2020 to 20 million tonnes by 2030, Inga Simonenko, head of market intelligence at Rusal Marketing GmbH, told the online CRU World Aluminium Conference.
Around 6.5 million tonnes of the 2030 total will be clustered in the southern Guangxi region, Simonenko’s presentation showed. “I think it’s possible.. recycling is the easiest and fastest way to decarbonise Chinese industry,” she said, adding it also had “outstanding” regulatory support.
China aims to have carbon emissions peak by 2030 and plans to cap primary aluminium smelting capacity at around 45 million tonnes, versus output of just over 37 million tonnes in 2020. Energy-intensive aluminium accounts for around 18% of total emissions from China’s metal industry.
However, carbon emissions from secondary production are only 0.2 tonnes per tonne of aluminium, a fraction of the 12.5 tonnes for primary metal, BOCI Global Commodities said in a presentation at the conference.
Before a complete scrap collection system is in place, China will continue to import significant quantities of scrap and secondary aluminium alloys for at least the next two years. China is likely become a permanent importer of primary aluminium in future.
China’s primary aluminium imports have been trending higher since the coronavirus upended trade flows last year and it has also been buying large amounts of unwrought, alloyed aluminium amid tighter restrictions on scrap imports.