Price study on Indian primary aluminium producers in May-June, 2019

Contributed by: Sandip Paul
Program Manager
July 5, 2019

India became the second largest aluminium producing country in the world excluding China in 2018. With the strength of its integrated business model, excellent operational capabilities, stable operations and enriched product portfolio, Hindalco (plus Utkal Alumina) made significant profits in FY19. They are focusing on downstream segment for its domestic output. Primary aluminium productions from Hindalco’s smelting operations (Renukoot in Uttar Pradesh, Aditya Aluminium in Odisha at Hirakud, and at Mahan Aluminium in Madhya Pradesh) stand at around 1.3 million tonnes.

Based on last update, Hindalco two consecutive price hikes of aluminium products by 2% on 26 and 27 June. On 22 June there was price cut noted by 2%. On 21 and 20 June Hindalco’s aluminium product price was hiked by 1%. Again on 18 June there was 1% price cut. On 12 June prices hiked by 2% preceded by two prices cut on 11 and 5 June by 1% and 2% respectively.

While in May three price hike were noted on 29, 17 and 15 May by 1%, 2%, 2% respectively. And also three price cut were noted on 23, 21 and 18 May by 2% each.

The last price hike in June followed resilience in prices of base metals following progress in trade talks between US and China. Prices of aluminium products are down more than 5% in this Apr-Jun quarter as compared with Jan-Mar quarter.

NALCO chairman and managing director TK Chand said “We are keeping the target of aluminium production at the same level of that of the last year that is 4.4 lakh tonne and in case the market picks up then we will be increasing it to 4.6 lakh which is the capacity.” On 22 June, NALCO hiked prices of aluminium ingot by over 1% (which is INR 150150 per tonne). Also on June 3, NALCO raised prices of aluminium products by more than 1%.

On May 24, NALCO cut prices of its aluminium products by around 2%. 21 May price cut of 3% was noted for its aluminium products. On 17 May, NALCO raised ingots price by around 4%. Before this on 10 May NALCO cut prices of aluminium ingots by more than 4%. This price cut comes after the company twice raised prices of aluminium products in April. After this price cut, rates of the company’s product are down more than 2%.

With the hike on 22 June, prices of the products are at their lowest level in a month, and down more than 3% from the Jan-Mar quarter.

Indian aluminium producers are concerned about the growing import from China and other south Asian countries and are demanding a rise in import tariffs.

“Aluminium sector has seen 60 percent increase in import” said by founder and chairman of Vedanta, Anil Agarwal in a recent interview when he talked about budget expectation that the government may to bring some relief to the aluminium sector.

Based in the lasted report, Vedanta hiked the prices of aluminium products by 2% w.e.f. 27-Jun-2019. Previous price hike was noted on 26-Jun-2019 which was 1%. On 22-Jun-2019, there was a price cut of aluminium ingots by 0.2%. On 21, 20 and 12 June prices were hiked by 2%, 1% and 2% respectively. On 18 and 11 June price cuts took place by 1% respectively. Earlier than that, there was 2% price cut on 5 June. While during May first week there was a huge price cuts of aluminium ingots by nearly 4%. In mid of May we noted price hike by nearly 2 followed by another price cut by 1.5%.

Vedanta Ltd plans to prune its aluminium making cost in the scope of US$1,725-1,775 per tonne in this financial to beat the value blues. Value projections are keeping pace with LME prices of $1,766 per ton (as on May 9).

With the last price hike in June, rates of company’s products are now down around 6%, compared with Jan-Mar quarter.

Main drivers of price changes

India has a per-capita aluminium consumption of only 2.5 kg compared against a world average of 11 kg. Indian players get affected by,

  • Global trade wars and unstable export markets,
  • Import duty,
  • Coal & bauxite availability,
  • Lower lme prices in 2019,
  • Inflated aluminium production costs
  • Dumping of cheap aluminium and scrap in the country through import

In terms of State Government’s priorities, they should continue to focus on leveraging manufacturing sector for economic growth. Another key focus area should be improving ease of doing business for aluminium and allied industries.

And how primary aluminium price get affected by aluminium scrap import?

“Consumption of primary aluminium has fallen on account of increase in use of aluminium scrap. Scrap imports increased by 20.3 per cent amid the US-China trade war. Aluminium scrap is priced at a discount to LME (which is also popularly known as scrap spread) and also has a low import duty of 2.5 per cent in India. Aluminium scrap is usually used by the auto sector, but since the past two years, because of an increase in the scrap spread, a large part of its usage is getting diverted towards manufacturing of other products as well, which is leading to an increase in its imports,” stated by CARE Ratings report.

India’s aluminium scrap consumption is 100 per cent driven by imports. Scrap comes into the country from the US, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Netherlands and Singapore. During January-March of CY2019, India toppled China as the biggest importer of aluminium scrap. India meets nearly half of metal demand through scrap recycling.

Aluminium Association of India has reached out to the government to seek relief in the form of increasing the basic custom duty in the coming budget on primary aluminium from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent, reducing basic custom duty and correcting inverted duty structure. AAI also asked the India government to increase the basic custom duty on aluminium scrap from 2.5 per cent t to 10 per cent to make it at par with primary metal.

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