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China Bauxite Imports Fall 31% After Indonesia Curbed Shipments

Chinese imports of bauxite fell 31 percent from a year earlier last month after Indonesia curbed mineral exports, restricting seaborne shipments of the ore used to make aluminum.

Total deliveries to China slid to 2.14 million metric tons from 3.09 million tons in October 2011, according to customs figures. Imports from Indonesia plunged 56 percent to 1.05 million tons, the data showed.

Limits imposed by Indonesia on raw-material exports since May will cut seaborne trade in bauxite by 5 percent this year, Clarkson Plc, the largest shipbroker, said in a report published yesterday. Courts in the country, which accounted for 49 percent of last year’s 82 million tons of global shipments, annulled parts of the laws in November, it showed.

“A lack of clarity over future Indonesian export policies has made the outlook for bauxite trade uncertain,” Clarkson said. “It is clear that if shipments are restricted, it would not be simple to quickly replace any lost Indonesian supply.”

Supplies of the ore from Australia are limited, according to Clarkson. The country increased bauxite exports to China by 11 percent so far this year, according to customs figures.

China, the world’s largest producer of aluminum, accounted for 77 percent of growth in bauxite export trade between 2002 and 2011, the shipbroker said.

Overall imports of the ore into China fell 8.7 percent in this year’s first 10 months from a year earlier, the customs figures showed. Deliveries climbed 49 percent last year from 2010, when they jumped 53 percent in annual terms.

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