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UPDATE 1-China's output of copper, aluminium hits record in Dec
January 22, 2015 / 11:27 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-China's output of copper, aluminium hits record in Dec

* Tin production also at record high last month

* Copper at 832,618 tonnes, aluminium 2.18 million tonnes

By Polly Yam

HONG KONG, Jan 22 (Reuters) - China’s output of refined copper jumped 10.2 percent month-on-month in December, hitting a record for the fifth straight month as smelters rushed to meet targets for the year and plentiful supply of raw materials supported full production.

Primary aluminium production also hit a record in December.

Refined copper output reached 832,618 tonnes, up from the previous record 755,492 tonnes in November, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Thursday.

The output surged 34.3 percent from a year earlier, even though the 100,000-tonnes-a-year producer Yantai Penghui halted production last month after running out of cash.

Refined copper production rose 13.7 percent to 7.96 million tonnes in 2014, as smelters added capacity, and plentiful supply of raw material concentrates supported high metal output.

The 2014 output was higher than the 6.23 million tonnes estimated by an executive at a large copper producer, based on the production of 15 large and medium-scale smelters and their subsidiaries.

Industry sources say double-counting has inflated official production figures in recent years as smelters expanded to other provinces. Smelters and subsidiaries in different parts of China may have reported their output to local authorities separately, the sources say.

Refined copper output would rise by 300,000-400,000 tonnes in 2015 as at least 300,000 tonnes of new capacity was set to start operations, the executive said.

Production of primary aluminium rose 2.5 percent in December from the prior month to 2.18 million tonnes, up from the previous record 2.13 million tonnes in November.

Output hit a record for the seventh straight month after about 2 million tonnes of new capacity came on stream in the fourth quarter of 2014, although some half a million tonnes of high-cost capacity closed last month on low prices.

The output was up 12.2 percent from a year earlier. In 2014, output rose 7.7 percent to 24.38 million tonnes.

Refined tin production also hit a record, rising 10.4 percent from the previous month to 19,164 tonnes in December, up from the previous record 18,865 tonnes in July 2009.

Tin production surged 21.6 percent to 186,900 tonnes in 2014.

Refined nickel production rose 6.4 percent in December from the previous month to 34,949 tonnes, the highest since January 2013, data showed. Output in 2014 surged 27 percent to 353,599 tonnes.

Production of refined zinc and lead fell in December as low prices and increased environmental requirements forced some operations to halt.

Refined lead production dived 15.1 percent on the month to 324,217 tonnes. For 2014, output dropped 5.5 percent to 4.22 million tonnes.

Refined zinc output fell 1.9 percent on the month to 539,705 tonnes. Full-year output rose 6.9 percent to 5.83 million tonnes. (Reporting by Polly Yam; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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