On March 4, an industry source familiar with the situation said on Wednesday that during supply-demand talks in Japan, overseas aluminum suppliers were offering $98 to $105 per ton of primary aluminum for shipments to Japan in the second quarter of this year, up 18 to 27 percent from the LME spot aluminum price in the first quarter of this year.
Japanese buyers accepted a premium of $83 a tonne in the first quarter, down 14 per cent from the level in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Japan is a big importer of aluminum in Asia.
Japan’s quarterly aluminium premium is often regarded as the benchmark for regional aluminium premiums.
One Japanese aluminium buyer said: “late last week, one supplier was offering $105 a tonne of aluminium premium for the second quarter, while another was offering $98 a tonne.”
But the buyer said such high premium prices from overseas aluminum suppliers were unacceptable given the spread of covid-19 and slowing demand.
He said his company was willing to pay $75 a tonne for the rise.
More than 80 countries and regions have been affected by covid-19, which has disrupted global economic activity.
Another source said the supplier raised the premium price because of higher aluminum premiums in South Korea and stronger aluminum premiums in Europe.
“But it is expected that the quarterly aluminum rally talks in Japan will take longer as it is not clear to what extent the outbreak will affect the global economy and industrial chain,” the source said.
The talks, which began last month, involve buyers of Japanese aluminium and state suppliers including Rio tinto, Alcoa of the us and South32.
The quarterly aluminum premium talks are expected to continue until late this month.
Even before the covid-19 outbreak, the aluminum market was struggling with slowing demand and sluggish demand from the auto industry, analysts said.