May 15, 2018 / 2:52 AM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 3-China aluminium smelters ramped up output in April as prices rallied

* Smelters ramped up output after end of winter heating cuts

* Jan-April output +0.2 pct

* U.S. sanctions on Rusal spurred rally in prices

* April nonferrous metal output +3.1 pct - stats bureau (Adding background, detail in paras 7, 11)

BEIJING, May 15 (Reuters) - China’s aluminium production rose in April to its highest level on a daily basis since June, as higher aluminium prices encouraged smelters to ramp up output in their first full month after the end of winter restrictions.

Output in the world’s top producer rose by 1.1 percent to 2.77 million tonnes in April from a year earlier, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.

That equates to 92,300 tonnes per day, the highest since June last year and up from 89,500 tonnes in March, which was one day longer, according to Reuters calculations.

During this past winter, smelters in 28 cities in northern China were ordered to cut output by at least 30 percent to limit air pollution. The restrictions ended on March 15.

Some smelters were hesitant about switching their pots back on straightaway due to low aluminium prices, high costs and a well-supplied Chinese market.

However, the United States imposed sanctions on Russian producer United Company Rusal on April 6. That pushed up Shanghai aluminium prices by 4.8 percent last month, while London aluminium prices spiked by 12.5 percent on fears of a supply shortage.

The data also reflects new capacity which has been brought on stream recently by state-run companies and far exceeded the amount of output cut over the winter.

The favourable price arbitrage kept Chinese aluminium exports buoyant despite the U.S. imposing a 10 percent tariff on aluminium imports in March.

In the first four months of the year, China produced 10.89 million tonnes of aluminium, a rise of 0.2 percent from the same period last year, the data showed.

Production of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel – rose 3.1 percent in April to 4.54 million tonnes from a year earlier.

That was slightly lower than March’s 4.55 million tonnes.

Year-to-date output was up 2.3 percent at 17.84 million tonnes. The other non-ferrous metals are tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium. (Reporting by Tom Daly and Josephine Mason; editing by Richard Pullin)

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