News Corp Australia reported on Friday that it had “deep concerns” about the price of aluminium in the commodities market, and that a significant amount of the market’s aluminium production was at risk.
“The risk of aluminium mining becoming unsustainable is real and it is a risk that could lead to an event that would be beyond the control of the Commonwealth Government and our industry,” the newspaper said.
Aluminium ore prices have been rising, and Australian metals producers have been struggling to keep up with a huge demand from China.
In April, the Bureau of Statistics reported that Australia’s aluminium demand had jumped by 13% in the 12 months to September last year, compared with a year earlier.
The BIS has previously warned that the metal market could be in for a “catastrophic” event if there were to be “unprecedented levels of demand” for aluminium in China.
In the lead up to the July-August G20 meeting in Australia, Australia’s largest aluminium producer, the United States’ Powder River Basin, which employs approximately 1,000 people, warned that it was looking at a “massive” drop in demand for the metal.
“Our industry is in dire straits,” Powder River Mining told the ABC.
“We need to look at all our options.
We have had some major events happen over the last few months and we’re not going to be able to respond to that,” Powder Rivers chairman Andrew Crouch said.”
What we need to do is find a way of moving forward with a plan to make sure we get this right.”
Aluminium mining is already heavily reliant on Chinese demand.
In July, China’s aluminium imports from Australia reached a record of 4,000 tonnes, according to the National Mining Association.
That was the biggest number of imports from any country in the world, eclipsing the number of tonnes imported from Russia.
The price of aluminum is closely linked to the price that buyers are willing to pay for the material.
Australian metal ore prices rose by about 13% between January and June, while the value of the Australian dollar fell by around 10%.
The Bismarck Times Herald reported that the value in the Australian gold market had fallen by $1bn to $4.8bn, and had declined by 20% in value since August.
On the downside, China is also the world’s second largest consumer of aluminium, behind the US.
Chinese aluminium production is currently at a record 1.35 million tonnes, and is expected to peak at 2.1 million tonnes by 2020, according the Chinese government.
China’s aluminium market is expected have a net worth of $US50 billion by the end of 2020, a value that is twice the US$40 billion value.
China’s metal industry is now estimated to be worth $US1.9 trillion, according data compiled by the International Federation of Metals and Metals Import Associations (IFMIRA).
However, analysts say that it is difficult to project the impact of the G20 on aluminium prices.
A report from the US-based Commodity Futures Trading Commission last year predicted that aluminium prices could rise by up to 60% in a year.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, the world currently produces more aluminium than all the other major metals combined.