Hulamin seeks tariffs on aluminium sheet imports

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

While exports to Brazil attract a 12 percent duty, aluminium sheet imports from Novelis’ South American business to beverage can maker Nampak 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, is shifting sales of rolled aluminium products to sub-Saharan markets over the next seven years.

The company has invested 300 million rand in a recycling facility as regional demand for aluminium cans strengthens.

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

In January, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said BHP Billiton Ltd. may sell its Bayside aluminium smelter, which the world’s biggest miner has earmarked for closure, to Hulamin.

Hulamin on January 16 said it started talks with BHP over the future supply of aluminium slab from the Bayside smelter’s casthouse, where it sources a third of its requirement.