April 17, 2018 / 2:41 AM / in 5 months

UPDATE 1-China March aluminium output up 4 pct as new capacity offsets winter cuts

* Q1 output +0.3 pct yr-on-yr

* Nonferrous output in March up 3 pct (Adds details, industry context)

BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters) - China’s aluminium production rose by 4 percent to 2.78 million tonnes in March from a year earlier, data showed on Tuesday, as supply from new smelters outweighed winter output curbs imposed on existing producers in Beijing’s drive to cut pollution.

On a daily basis, the world’s top aluminium producer churned out 89,677 tonnes of the metal, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That was a share below the rate for the first two months of the year, which was the highest since June last year.

For the first quarter as a whole, China produced 8.12 million tonnes, a rise of 0.3 percent from the same period last year, according to the statistics bureau.

Smelters in smog-prone northern Chinese cities were only allowed to return to full operating rates from March 15, after being ordered to cut production by at least 30 percent during the peak winter heating season that began in mid-November.

But not all were planning to ramp up output immediately, given low aluminium prices last month, the lengthy and expensive process of restarting smelters, and the emergence of new capacity from state-run producers in the Inner Mongolia and Guangxi regions.

The rising output will stir debate about the government’s efforts to shutter outdated, inefficient capacity as the country ramps up exports, adding to a global glut.

Production of a group of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel – rose 3.0 percent in March to 4.55 million tonnes from a year earlier.

Year-to-date output was up 2.4 percent at 13.39 million tonnes. The other non-ferrous metals are tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium. (Reporting by Josephine Mason and Tom Daly Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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