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From King to Bronze, how to save the electrolytic aluminum with all losses?

April 8, 2020

Abstract: to sum up, reducing production and expanding consumption, decreasing and increasing, are the brightest and most effective drugs to dispel the dark clouds of electrolytic aluminum.

In 2018, a pessimistic prediction circulated online: 2019 may be the worst year in the past decade, but it will be the best year in the next decade. This sentence is a success for the electrolytic aluminum industry in 2020.

Entering 2020 is the beginning of another decade of this century. China's electrolytic aluminum industry has not ushered in spring blossoms, but encountered another "Waterloo": on April 2, LME aluminum closed at US $1495 / ton, and Shanghai aluminum ingots spot 11300 yuan / ton, the lowest since April 2016. According to the calculation of the aluminum research team of Beijing Antaike Information Co., Ltd., the weighted average full cost of China's electrolytic aluminum industry in March was 13200 yuan / ton, and the weighted average cash cost was 11680 yuan / ton. The proportion of total cost loss in the industry is 100%.

Since the Spring Festival in 2020, the novel coronavirus epidemic has had a tremendous impact on the domestic economy. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that, affected by the epidemic, the profits of large-scale industrial enterprises across the country fell 38.3% from January to February compared with the same period last year. In terms of car sales alone, car sales fell 79.1% in February from a year earlier, of which passenger car sales fell 81.7% from a year earlier.

At present, the spread of the epidemic at home has been basically blocked, but the epidemic abroad is raging rapidly, and the impact on the global economy is beyond expectations. The overseas automobile industry has come to a standstill. Around the world, 20 mainstream multinational automobile groups, including Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota, Ford and Tesla, have announced the closure of some factories. Hundreds of factories in 26 countries around the world have been affected, and I do not know when they will resume work.

Due to the epidemic situation in foreign countries, ocean transportation and air transport are limited, foreign trade exports are not smooth, and the domino effect comes instantly. The original export of nearly 10 million tons of aluminum and aluminum products (China's exports of aluminum and aluminum products totaled more than 9 million tons in 2019) are basically subject to domestic digestion.

With domestic surplus, sluggish domestic demand, restricted exports, high inventories, market imbalance, plummeting prices and losses across the board, this time, China's electrolytic aluminum industry is really hit by the tip of the knife in the throat. To make matters worse, this hard time has only just begun, and a more difficult and tight period is yet to come. Antaike's aluminum research team pointed out that the aluminum market is unlikely to be better in the future than in 2019.

The electrolytic aluminum industry was once king. At the beginning of this century, the profit margin of electrolytic aluminum far exceeded that of other industries, and its investment growth also exceeded the average growth value of the national economy. Today, the "force value" and "intelligence value" of electrolytic aluminum have dropped sharply, in which everyone has the feeling of 10,000 alpacas floating by.

How to deal with the unbalanced market and huge losses? Facing the test of life and death, how to survive? This is an old topic, but it has to be mentioned.

If you are seriously ill, you have to be treated with fierce medicine.

The first dose of medicine is to reduce market supply. The Yuefeng aluminum research team pointed out that production reduction is the most direct way to curb price falls in excess markets. At the end of 2015, after the aluminum price fell below 10,000 yuan, it bottomed out and rebounded after the industry jointly cut production by 4 million tons.

There are two ways to reduce production: one is to suspend the commissioning of new projects. An industry insider who spoke on condition of anonymity pointed out that at present and in the future, many external environmental conditions have deteriorated, and it is urgent to press the pause button for new electrolytic aluminum projects. The person said: "the suspension is not to quit, but to wait until the market is good before starting production." The backbone of the aluminum industry is electrolytic aluminum, which affects alumina, pre-baked anodes and other industries. If it continues to be put into production now, the market inventory will be even larger, which will harm the entire aluminum industry, including itself. " Second, the backbone enterprises of the whole industry have jointly reduced production and guaranteed prices from the height of self-discipline, self-awakening and self-consciousness. Implement the maintenance plan ahead of time, postpone the restart after the overhaul of the electrolytic cell, stop some series, and reduce the market launch.

The second dose is to expand domestic consumption. The Yuefeng aluminum research team pointed out that in addition to the traditional aluminum industry, special attention should be paid to aluminum consumption in emerging markets, focusing on the promotion and application of ordinary people's daily aluminum (such as aluminum furniture) and municipal aluminum (aluminum flyovers, aluminum street lamp poles, aluminum billboards). The head of the research office of Chinalco also said that to digest aluminum inventory, it is necessary to rely mainly on domestic consumption, and it is suggested that the relevant state departments introduce policies to encourage and stimulate domestic aluminum consumption.

Some professionals have proposed that in order to expand aluminum consumption and let aluminum materials benefit urban and rural people, we should also start from four points: first, in combination with new rural construction and poverty alleviation actions, let "aluminum materials go to the countryside". In agricultural machinery and tools, rural housing transformation, rural power network transformation, agricultural vehicles, farmland irrigation facilities, agricultural drones and other fields to promote aluminum application; second, combined with e-commerce and intelligent logistics and distribution, vigorously promote aluminum pallets and aluminum transfer boxes; The third is to implement the "aluminum foil lunch box project" in conjunction with the action to control plastic pollution, and the fourth is to promote aluminum square cabin hospital facilities, isolation facilities, medical rescue facilities, medical waste transfer facilities, etc., in combination with health and epidemic prevention and disaster relief.

The third dose of medicine is the implementation of collection and storage. According to the suggestion put forward by the person in charge of the research office of Chinalco Group, it should be advocated by the relevant state departments and industry associations, and the backbone enterprises should form an alliance to jointly contribute to the collection and storage in proportion, reduce the enterprise inventory, boost the market confidence and increase the market expectation.

To sum up, reducing production and expanding consumption, decreasing and increasing, are the brightest and most effective drugs to dispel the shadow of electrolytic aluminum. Only in this way can China's electrolytic aluminum industry upgrade all the way from bronze to king.