Here’s the latest of what we know about what happened at the Xinfa smelter. Please note, Xinfa have not released this information – we have gleaned it from our sources, so to that extent some of these points will need to be confirmed when/if Xinfa release an official report.
The accident occurred in line 1, not their new line. This line was running at 500KA, according to our information. The accident occurred at the point where the anode bar and the bus bar risers connect. The pot where the accident happened was being brought back into operation, but there appears to have been a gap between the anode bar and the circuit, and that caused a short circuit and an explosion. The accident did not happen in a control box as previously reported.
We estimate there will be a loss of about 80,000t of metal output, based on the fact that only half the 400,000tpa line was affected, and will be out of operation about 2 months.
The market impact is likely to be small. Not just because it’s only 80,000t (about how much aluminium China uses in one day), but because the plant’s customers are mostly in the south and eastern provinces, where there are plenty of other metal sources. We believe no customers will be directly impacted.
Nobody was hurt as best as we can find out.
If the accident occurred at one pot, then it begs the question, why weren’t they able to save the other pots in the line? The official post mortem will no doubt give a full explanation and corrective actions, but what we are hearing is that there were two reasons why they were not able to save the line. Quite simply, the plant had not invested in circuit breaker equipment, and the operators had had little or no training on how do save the remaining pots. Xinfa may dispute this, and we have not been able to confirm this, and anyway, any investigation will be some weeks away from reporting, but that’s what we are hearing from our sources.
We will bring any more information to you as we hear it.