BEIJING, Sept 18 (Reuters) - China’s Henan Shenhuo Group has postponed the launch of its new aluminium smelter in Yunnan province after poor weather delayed construction, a spokesman for the company said on Wednesday.
With annual smelting capacity of 900,000 tonnes across two phases, the 6.75 billion yuan ($952 million) integrated hydropower and aluminium project in Wenshan prefecture, which was expected to come online this month, is one of the biggest in the pipeline in China, the world’s top aluminium maker.
It is also an example of an aluminium company moving production from an industrial heartland like Henan to more remote areas such as Yunnan in Southwest China, where Shenhuo will take advantage of clean hydropower for the energy-intensive smelting process.
“By the end of this year, all three stages of the first phase will be put into operation,” with the launches staggered at the end of October, November and December, respectively, the Shenhuo spokesman said.
Conditions up in the mountains have been quite poor, “so it’s delayed,” he added, noting the original plan, when construction started in May 2018, was to start production in July before the target was moved to September.
A second company official said the delay was due to recent rains in Yunnan which caused construction to be postponed.
“It has nothing to do with alumina,” he added, when asked if the company had enough supply of the aluminium raw material, China’s production of which sank to a 10-month low in August.
The second phase of the project is due to launch in 2020. “The second phase will not require infrastructure, so it will be faster,” the second official said.
$1 = 7.0886 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Mark Potter