China exported a record volume of copper and imported a record volume of aluminium last year


Although China is the largest producer of aluminium, its import volume reached a new record last year. The world’s most populous country imported 3.2 million of the grey metal in 2021 as it sought a cheaper alternative abroad.

Although the volume of aluminium imported into China fell slightly towards the end of 2021, China in that year imported half a million tons more of the metal than in 2020. The record volume of aluminium imports may seem like a paradox, as China is a net exporter of aluminium. But prices of the metal have soared too high in China, and Chinese companies have therefore sought cheaper alternatives on foreign markets.

China is, however, a major player in the copper market. Despite being the world’s largest consumer, Chinese copper exports also hit a new record last year. China exported over 930,000 tonnes of copper abroad in 2021, almost 200,000 tonnes more than in 2020.

Surprisingly, China is in the position of a net importer of copper. It imported 5.5 million tonnes last year, recording a slight year-on-year decline. It was in 2020 when China’s copper imports set a record. However, rising copper prices on the global market have put a slight brake on China’s copper imports while boosting its exports.


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