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To avoid the risk of port rejections under China’s new import classification requirements, including some No.2 copper reportedly disqualified owing to surface paint, many Chinese importers are favouring much higher-grade copper units such as No.1 copper.

Data for March indicate copper and brass imports of 171,996 tons for an increase of more than 90% over March 2019. Smelter operating rates have been duly boosted while China’s copper cathode production increased 7.29% year on year in April to 878,100 tonnes.

Despite high demand for recycling cast aluminium alloy raw material, with the aluminium alloy ingot price also at an all-time high, raw material imports performed poorly, mainly due to difficulties for overseas suppliers in meeting the new specification requirements.

Penalties have been issued by the Tangshan Ecology and Environment Bureau to several steel mills in its region. Some mills have been fined and suspended for failing to follow emission management requirements while others have been ordered to reduce production until the end of the year.

Tsingshan Holding Group has announced a US$ 1.57 billion investment in a new lithium-ion battery plant in Guangdong province, with a projected construction start date from the middle of this year. Meanwhile, Guangxi province is planning a five-million-ton aluminium recycling plant in the Pingguo area, entailing a US$ 1.5 billion investment.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers is reporting 8.75 million sales in the first four months of 2021, including 2.25 million units sold in April, for an increase of 51.8% over last year. China’s vehicle manufacturers are suffering the negative impacts of a worldwide semiconductor shortage but the auto market remains optimistic about the coming months.