U.S. aluminum imports in October were at their highest for the month since 2008 as bigger inflows from Canada offset a slowdown in material from Russia, according to International Trade Commission data released on Monday.
Imports totaled 268,000 tonnes in October, up 18 percent from a year earlier and an 11 percent rise from the prior month, for third-highest monthly total so far this year.
The bulk of the inflows came from Canada, typically the top foreign supplier into the United States, with about 1.91 million tonnes coming across the border, up 17 percent from October 2013 and a rise of almost a quarter from September.
The Canadian imports were the second-highest for the year so far and came even as Rio Tinto has closed older Soederberg-technology potlines at its major Kitimat smelter as part of a major modernization of the technology.
The smelter's output fell in the third quarter, but that will ramp up next year as the facility fires up expanded capacity of 420,000 tonnes per year.
The upswing from Canada in October bucks an overall downtrend for the year to date. Canadian imports are down 4 percent at 1.65 million tonnes from a year earlier.
The overall rise in imports reflects a general trend so far this year as soaring premiums that fabricators and merchants pay on top of benchmark London Metal Exchange prices for delivery to the Midwest lure units to the United States.
Cuts in domestic smelting capacity due to low LME prices and high energy costs have also forced companies that use aluminum in cars and construction to buy more metal from abroad, from countries such as Saudi Arabia.