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China sets new record in non-ferrous metals production

Preliminary statistics for last year show that China’s production of 10 commonly-used non-ferrous metals increased 7.1% to 74.698 million tons - the first time the yearly figure has exceeded 70 million tons. The 2023 production total included 12.99 million tons of refined copper (+13.5% year on year) and 41.59 million tons of electrolytic aluminium (+3.7%). The metal content of six types of concentrate amounted to 6.415 million tons for a year-on-year decrease of 0.5%.

Also in 2023, the capacity utilization rate recorded by the non-ferrous metals smelting and rolling industry was 79.5% - an increase of 0.2 percentage points from the previous year and 4.2 percentage points higher than the national industrial manufacturing capacity utilization average.

China’s import and export trade in non-ferrous metals amounted last year to US$ 331.54 billion for a year-on-year increase of 1.5%, with import values rising 4.3% to US$ 271.94 billion and export values falling 9.8% to US$ 59.61 billion. Physical import volumes included: 27.536 million tons of copper concentrate (2.303 million tons or 9.1% higher than in 2022); 5.48 million tons of unwrought copper and copper materials (360,000 tons or 6.2% lower than in the previous year); and 141.38 million tons of bauxite (an increase of 16.15 million tons or 12.9% over 2022). Exports of aluminium materials amounted to 5.675 million tons for a year-on-year decrease of 919,000 tons or 13.9%, whereas rare earth exports climbed 3578.7 tons or 7.3% last year to 52,306.5 tons.

China’s aluminium exports are expected to stabilize while imports of copper concentrate and bauxite should maintain stable growth.

In 2024, the growth rate of added value in the non-ferrous metals industry should remain above 5.5% and is expected to reach 6%. The production growth rate for the 10 commonly-used non-ferrous metals is anticipated to remain around 5%. Consumption of non-ferrous metals by the real estate sector is expected to continue to slow, with the leading consumption growth areas thought likely to remain photovoltaic, wind power, power/energy storage batteries, new energy vehicles and lightweight transportation vehicles.

The growth rate for fixed asset investment in the non-ferrous metals industry remains at around 10%.