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World Primary Aluminum Production Growth to Accelerate by 9X in 2020


  1. World aluminum production is set to expand 9X more in 2020 than in 2019 as smelting profitability improves and restarts and expansions go ahead in the Western World and China.
  2. Primary aluminum production in the Western World keeps gaining momentum, after accelerating in October to an estimated annual pace of 2.1% y/y from 1.8% y/y in Q3 2019 amid incremental gains in Brazil (Albras’ restart) and Middle East (Alba’s ramp-up of Line 6). Conversely, China’s production is still to regain momentum, contracting in October by an estimated 1.8% y/y (similar to Q3 2019’s decline) amid a slower-than-expected pace for restarting recently disrupted capacity and ramping-up new projects in Yunnan, Sichuan, and Inner Mongolia.
  3. Gains from production restarts (around 600 kmtpy) in North America and Europe have yet to hit the market. In North America, ABI’s restart is underway and has yet to return over 300 kmtpy capacity by mid-2020, while Century is on pace to restart 50 kmtpy in Hawesville before the end of Q1 2020 and could restart another 50 kmtpy from Q4 2020. In Europe, Rio Tinto could return 70 kmtpy in Isal as soon as Q4 2019; while Trimet plans to resume full smelting operations in Germany by Q2 2020 (around 40 kmtpy restart) and Norsk Hydro should proceed with Husnes’ 95-kmtpy-restart in H1 2020.

    In Asia, we see high odds for disrupted/curtailed capacity in India and China to return by H1 2020 (around 0.1 and 1.0 million mtpy, respectively). Additionally, in the Middle East, production restarts could gradually continue in Iran.

  4. World production growth in 2020 to be 9X that of 2019. On top of production restarts, as much as 1.3 million mtpy of new capacity could start ramping up in the Western World within the next twelve months (Iran, India, Russia, and Malaysia). Meanwhile in China, around 3.0 million mtpy of new capacity could start ramping-up within the same timeframe (in Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, and Inner Mongolia) .

    HARBOR expects primary aluminum production in the Western World to expand by 1.4 million mton (or 4.9% y/y) in 2020, up from an estimated expansion of 0.5 million mton (or 1.8% y/y) in 2019; and in China to grow by 1.45 million mton (4.0% y/y) in 2020, up from an estimated decline of 0.16 million mton (or 0.4% y/y) for 2019.