China's hot rolled aluminium plate slab production capacity has been increased this year and will expand further in 2006 and 2007 but the country is still reliant on imported slab, leading to predictions of price hikes later this year, which could impact on bike prices.

China expands hot rolled aluminium plate slab production, but not fast enough

According to Interfax, China’s hot rolled aluminium plate slab production capacity has seen significant expansion this year. By the end of this year China will be capable of producing 2.5 million tonnes hot rolled plate slab per annum, which will largely replace China’s imports of high-quality aluminium plates.

Wang Zhutang, a professor with the China Nonferrous Metals Technology and Economy Institute and an special consultant to the government-affiliated Antaike Information Development Co., Ltd. told Interfax:

"China is building many other hot rolled aluminium plate projects, which are all due for completion in 2006 or 2007. Then the production capacity would reach 4 million tonnes. Once they are finished, China will be able to manufacture considerable amount of high value added aluminium plates, which will squeeze out a large part of imports."

Fang Guangshan, head of the Administration Office of Southwest Aluminum Plate and Strip said:

"We eye a huge market potential in high quality aluminium plates and strips, which demands large supply of hot rolled aluminium plates instead of continuous rolled plates. We predict that the transportation sector, including automobile, shipbuilding, aviation, bicycle, railway vehicles, and containers, will be the largest consumer of high quality aluminium plates in the future.

"So far the transportation sector only accounts for 15 percent of the total demand for aluminium plates per year in China. We predict that the demand would surge by 20 percent per year over the next ten years."

But China is not yet capable of meeting demand for aluminium slab so prices will likely rise, believes the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

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