Hulamin Asks South Africa for Tariffs on Aluminum Sheet Imports

Hulamin Ltd., Africa’s biggest maker of fabricated aluminum products, has asked South African trade authorities to impose tariffs on aluminum sheet imports, mainly from Brazil.

While exports to Brazil attract a 12 percent duty, aluminum sheet imports from Novelis Inc.’s South American business to beverage can maker Nampak Ltd. in South Africa are exempt, Richard Jacob, chief executive officer of Pietermaritzburg-based Hulamin, said in an interview.

“This means we’re undercut by a rival in our own backyard,” said Jacob. While declining to disclose the tariff sought by Hulamin, he said supporting analysis commissioned from consultancy Econometrix indicates it would be “near the 12 percent mark.”

Hulamin, which lodged its application with International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa this month, is shifting sales of rolled aluminum products to sub-Saharan markets over the next seven years. The company has invested 300 million rand ($27.4 million) in a recycling facility as regional demand for aluminum cans strengthens.

Hulamin’s proposed 10 percent tariff on imports of semifabricated, rolled products was rejected by the commission in August 2011, according to Johannesburg-based newspaper Business Day.

In January, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said BHP Billiton Ltd. may sell its Bayside aluminum smelter, which the world’s biggest miner has earmarked for closure, to Hulamin. Hulamin on Jan. 16 said it started talks with BHP over the future supply of aluminum slab from the Bayside smelter’s casthouse, where it sources a third of its requirement.