As filed with Securities and Exchange Commission on April 22, 2022
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
For the fiscal year ended
Date of event requiring this shell company report _____________
For the transition period from __________ to __________
Commission file number
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
People’s Republic of
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Name, Telephone, Email and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Class H Ordinary Shares**
* Evidenced by American Depositary Receipts. Each American Depositary Share represents 25 H Shares.
** Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing of American Depositary Shares, pursuant to the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.
(Title of Class)
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
As of December 31, 2021:
Domestic shares, par value RMB1.00 per share
H Shares, par value RMB1.00 per share
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes ☐
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Accelerated filer ☐
Non-accelerated filer ☐
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
†The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. Yes
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP ☐
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
Item 17 ☐ Item 18 ☐
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.
Yes ☐ No ☐
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certain information contained in this annual report, which does not relate to historical information, may be deemed to constitute forward-looking statements. The words or phrases “will likely result,” “are expected to,” “will continue,” “is anticipated,” “estimate,” “project,” “believe” or similar expressions are intended to identify “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from historical results and those presently anticipated or projected. You should not place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements relating to:
|●||future general economic conditions;|
|●||future conditions in the international and China capital markets;|
|●||future conditions in the financial and credit markets;|
|●||future prices and demand for our products;|
|●||future PRC tariff levels for alumina and primary aluminum;|
|●||sales of our products;|
|●||the extent and nature of, and potential for, future developments;|
|●||production, consumption and demand forecasts of bauxite, coal, alumina and primary aluminum;|
|●||expansion, consolidation or other trends in the primary aluminum industry;|
|●||estimates of proven and probable reserves and measured, indicated and inferred resources with respect to our bauxite and coal mines;|
|●||the effectiveness of our cost-saving measures;|
|●||future expansion, investment and acquisition plans and capital expenditures;|
|●||the severity, duration and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 pandemic (as well as the efforts to contain it) on our operations and financial performance, the industry we are in, our suppliers and customers, the PRC economy and global economy;|
|●||changes in legislation, regulations and policies;|
|●||the impact of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act and any rules or regulations adopted by U.S. regulators to implement such legislation, including but not limited to the Interim Final Rule and the Final Rule with respect to the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act adopted by the SEC;|
|●||the impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and the economic sanctions imposed on Russia, and their impact on the global economy;|
|●||our research and development plans; and|
|●||our dividend policy.|
These statements are based on assumptions and analyses made by us in light of our experience and our perception of historical trends, current conditions and future developments, as well as other factors we believe are appropriate in particular circumstances. However, whether actual results and developments will meet our expectations and predictions depends on a number of risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations. These risks are more fully described in the section headed “Item 3. Key Information - D. Risk Factors.”
Consequently, all of the forward-looking statements made in this annual report are qualified by these cautionary statements. We cannot assure you that the actual results or developments anticipated by us will be realized or, even if substantially realized, that they will have the expected effect on us or our business or operations.
Certain Terms and Conventions
“Chalco,” “the Company,” “the Group,” “our Company,” “our Group,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer to Aluminum Corporation of China Limited and its subsidiaries and, where appropriate, to its predecessors;
“A Share(s)” and “domestic share(s)” refer to our domestic ordinary share(s), with a par value of RMB1.00 each, which are listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange;
“ADR(s)” refers to the American Depositary Receipt(s);
“ADS(s)” refers to the American Depositary Share(s);
“alumina-to-silica ratio” refers to the ratio of alumina to silica in bauxite by weight;
“aluminum fabrication” refers to the process of converting primary aluminum or recycled aluminum materials into plates, strips, bars, tubes and other fabricated products;
“Baotou Aluminum” refers to Baotou Aluminum Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“bauxite” refers to a mineral ore that is principally composed of aluminum;
“Bayer process” refers to a refining process that employs a strong solution of caustic soda at an elevated temperature to extract alumina from ground bauxite;
“Bayer-sintering combined process” and “Bayer-sintering series process” refer to the two methods of refining process developed in China which involve the combined application of the Bayer process and the sintering process to extract alumina from bauxite;
“Board” refers to our board of directors;
“Boffa Project” refers to the project to develop and operate a bauxite mine located in Boffa, Guinea, in accordance with a mining convention entered into by Chalco Hong Kong, Chalco Guinea Company S.A. and the Guinean government on June 8, 2018;
“CBEX” refers to China Beijing Equity Exchange, an approved equity exchange for the transfer of state-owned assets;
“Chinalco Assets” refers to Chinalco Assets Operation and Management Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinalco;
“Chalco Energy” refers to Chalco Energy Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Hong Kong” refers to Chalco Hong Kong Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under Hong Kong Law;
“Chalco Logistics” refers to Chalco Aluminum Logistics Corporation Group Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Materials” refers to Chalco Materials Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Mining” refers to Chalco Mining Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Ruimin” refers to Chalco Ruimin Company Limited, our subsidiary until June 2013 when we disposed of 93.30% of its equity interest to Chinalco;
“Chalco Shandong” refers to Chalco Shandong Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Shanghai” refers to Chalco Shanghai Company Limited, our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Southwest Aluminum” refers to Chalco Southwest Aluminum Company Limited, our subsidiary until June 2013 when we disposed of 60% of its equity interest to Chinalco;
“Chalco Southwest Aluminum Cold Rolling” refers to Chalco Southwest Aluminum Cold Rolling Company Limited, our wholly-owned subsidiary until June 2013 when we disposed of its entire equity interest to Chinalco;
“Chalco Trading” refers to China Aluminum International Trading Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Trading Group” refers to China Aluminum International Trading Group Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Chalco Xing County Alumina Project” refers to the Bayer process production system and ancillary facilities at Xing County, Lvliang City of Shanxi Province with production capacity of 800,000 tonnes of metallurgical grade alumina per year;
“China” and the “PRC” refer to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for purposes of this annual report only, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan;
“China Copper” refers to China Copper Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinalco;
“China United Assets Appraisal” refers to China United Assets Appraisal Group Co., Ltd., a PRC qualified valuer;
“Chinalco” refers to our controlling shareholder, Aluminum Corporation of China and its subsidiaries (other than Chalco and its subsidiaries) and, where appropriate, to its predecessors;
“Chinalco Finance” refers to Chinalco Finance Co., Ltd.;
“CSRC” refers to China Securities Regulatory Commission;
“cut-off grade” refers to the grade (i.e., the concentration of metal or mineral in rock) that determines the destination of the material during mining. For purposes of establishing "prospects of economic extraction," the cut-off grade is the grade that distinguishes material deemed to have no economic value (it will not be mined in underground mining or if mined in surface mining, its destination will be the waste dump) from material deemed to have economic value (its ultimate destination during mining will be a processing facility). “Exchange Act” refers to the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended;
“Euro” refers to the lawful currency of the Eurozone;
“Fushun Aluminum” refers to Fushun Aluminum Company Limited, our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Gansu Hualu” refers to Gansu Hualu Aluminum Company Limited, 51% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“Gansu Huayang” refers to Gansu Huayang Mining Development Company Limited, 70% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“GNF” refers to Guinea franc, the lawful currency of the Republic of Guinea;
“Guangxi Investment” refers to Guangxi Investment (Group) Co., Ltd., formerly known as Guangxi Development and Investment Co., Ltd., a PRC state-owned enterprise;
“Guizhou Development” refers to Guizhou Provincial Materials Development and Investment Corporation, a PRC state-owned enterprise and one of our promoters and shareholders;
“Guizhou Huajin” refers to Guizhou Huajin Aluminum Co., Ltd., 60% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“Guizhou Huaren” refers to Guizhou Huaren New Material Co., Ltd., 40% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“Guangxi Huasheng” refers to Guangxi Huasheng New Material Co., Ltd., 51% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“H Share(s)” refers to overseas listed foreign share(s) with a par value of RMB1.00 each, which are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange;
“Henan Aluminum” refers to Chalco Henan Aluminum Company Limited, our subsidiary until June 2013 when we disposed of 90.03% of its equity interest to Chinalco;
“HK$” and “HK dollars” refer to Hong Kong dollars, the lawful currency of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC;
“Hong Kong Stock Exchange” refers to The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited;
“Huaxi Aluminum” refers to Huaxi Aluminum Company Limited, our subsidiary until June 2013 when we disposed of 56.86% of its equity interest to Chinalco;
“Inner Mongolia Huayun” refers to Inner Mongolia Huayun New Materials Co., Ltd., 50% of the equity interest of which is owned by Baotou Aluminum;
“IRS” refers to Internal Revenue Service of the United States federal government;
“Japanese Yen” refers to the lawful currency of Japan;
“Jiaozuo Wanfang” refers to Jiaozuo Wanfang Aluminum Manufacturing Co., Ltd.;
“Ka” refers to kiloamperes, a unit for measuring the strength of an electric current, with one kiloampere equaling 1,000 amperes;
“kWh” refers to kilowatt-hours, a unit of electrical power, meaning one kilowatt of power for one hour;
“Lanzhou Aluminum” refers to Lanzhou Aluminum Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary since January 2019, which was previously our wholly-owned branch, Lanzhou branch;
“Listing Rules” and “Hong Kong Listing Rules” refer to the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, as amended;
“LME” refers to the London Metal Exchange Limited;
“Logistics Zhongzhou” refers to China Aluminum Logistics Group Zhongzhou Co., Ltd., our indirect subsidiary;
“MIIT” refers to Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the PRC;
“MOF” refers to Ministry of Finance of the PRC;
“MW” refers to megawatt, a unit of electrical power;
“Nanchu” refers to ENanchu (http://www.enanchu.com/), a nonferrous metal-related portal site in PRC;
“NDRC” refers to China National Development and Reform Commission;
“Ningxia Energy” refers to China Aluminum Ningxia Energy Group Co., Ltd., formerly known as Ningxia Electric Power Group Co., Ltd., before we acquired 70.82% of its equity interest in January 2013;
“Northwest Aluminum” refers to Northwest Aluminum Fabrication Branch, our wholly-owned branch until June 2013 when we disposed of all its assets to a subsidiary of Chinalco;
“NYSE” and “New York Stock Exchange” refer to the New York Stock Exchange Inc.;
“ore-dressing Bayer process” refers to a refining process we developed to increase the alumina-to-silica ratio of bauxite;
“PBOC” refers to People’s Bank of China;
“Qingdao Light Metal” refers to Chalco Qingdao Light Metal Company Limited, our wholly-owned subsidiary until June 2013 when we disposed of its entire equity interest to Chinalco. In December 2017, we acquired 100% of the equity interest in Qingdao Light Metal through Chalco Shandong at a consideration of RMB300.4 million to further our prospective strategic layout on secondary aluminum;
“qualified person” refers to an individual who is a mineral industry professional with at least five years of relevant experience in the type of mineralization and type of deposit under consideration and in the specific type of activity that person is undertaking on behalf of the registrant; and an eligible member or licensee in good standing of a recognized professional organization at the time the technical report is prepared. “refining” refers to the chemical process used to produce alumina from bauxite;
“RMB” and “Renminbi” refer to the lawful currency of the PRC;
“SAT” refers to State Administration of Taxation of the PRC;
“SAFE” refers to State Administration of Foreign Exchange of the PRC;
“SASAC” refers to State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council of China;
“SEC” refers to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission;
“Securities Act” refers to the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended;
“Shandong Huayu” refers to Shandong Huayu Alloy Material Co., Ltd., 55% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“Shanxi Huasheng” refers to Shanxi Huasheng Aluminum Company Limited, 51% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“Shanxi Huaxing” refers to Shanxi Huaxing Aluminum Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law.
“Shanxi Huayu” refers to Shanxi Huayu Energy Investment Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law.
“Shanxi New Material” or “Shanxi Huaze” refers to Chalco Shanxi New Material Co., Ltd., formerly known as Shanxi Huaze Aluminum and Power Co., Limited, 85.98% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“Shanxi Other Mines” refers to the nine mines to which we entrusted another party to conduct mining activities, including Changjialing mine, Guxian mine, Loufan mine, Nanpo mine, Xishan mine, Yangjiashan mine, Niucaogou mine, Xiwupu mine and Jiaokou Xisongzhuang mine in Shanxi Province;
“Shanxi Zhongrun” refers to Shanxi China Huarun Co., Ltd., 40% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“SHFE” refers to the Shanghai Futures Exchange;
“sintering process” refers to a refining process employed to extract alumina from bauxite by mixing ground bauxite with supplemental materials and burning the mixture in a coal-fired kiln;
“smelting” refers to the electrolytic process used to produce molten aluminum from alumina;
“tonne” refers to the metric ton, a unit of weight, that is equivalent to 1,000 kilograms or 2,204.6 pounds;
“US$,” “dollars” and “U.S. dollars” refer to the lawful currency of the United States;
“Xinghua Technology” refers to Chinalco Shanxi Jiaokou Xinghua Technology Ltd., 66% of the equity interest of which is owned by us;
“Yangtze” refers to the Shanghai Changjiang Nonferrous Metals Spot Market;
“Yixin Aluminum” refers to Heqing Yixin Aluminum Co., Ltd., an indirect subsidiary of Chinalco;
“Yunnan Aluminum” refers to Yunnan Aluminum Co., Ltd., an indirect subsidiary of Chinalco;
“Yunnan SASAC” refers to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Yunnan Provincial People’s Government;
“Zhangze Electric Power” refers to Shanxi Zhangze Electric Power Co., Ltd., which owns 14.02% of equity interest in Shanxi New Material;
“Zhengzhou Institute” refers to Chalco Zhengzhou Research Institute of Non-ferrous Metal Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary, which primarily provides research and development services;
“Zhongzhou Aluminum” refers to Chalco Zhongzhou Aluminum Co., Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary established under the PRC law;
“Zhongzhou Aluminum Plant” refers to Henan Zhongzhou Aluminum Plant Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinalco;
“Zhongzhou Logistics” refers to Henan Zhongzhou Logistics Co., Ltd., which had been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinalco and was dissolved in September 2020;
“Zunyi Alumina” refers to Chalco Zunyi Alumina Co., Ltd., which was merged into Zunyi Aluminum in June 2018; and
“Zunyi Aluminum” refers to Zunyi Aluminum Co., Ltd., 67.45% of the equity interest of which is owned by us.
Translations of amounts in this annual report from Renminbi to U.S. dollars and vice versa have been made at the rate of RMB6.3726 to US$1.00, the exchange rate as set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Federal Reserve Board for December 30, 2021. We make no representation that any Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, the rates stated below, or at all.
Any discrepancies in any table between the amounts identified as total amounts and the sum of the amounts listed therein are due to rounding.
Item 1.Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisors
Item 2.Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3.Key Information
A.Selected Financial Data
B.Capitalization and Indebtedness
C.Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
Our business and financial condition and results of operations are subject to various changing business, competitive, economic, political and social conditions in China and worldwide. In addition to the factors discussed elsewhere in this annual report, the following are some of the important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements.
Our business is vulnerable to downturns in the general economy and industries in which we operate or which we serve. A significant reduction in demand could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Demand for our products depends on the general economy and level of activity and growth in the industries where we operate or serve. Adverse development in economic and market conditions, such as a significant economic downturn or a downturn in the commodity sector or the financial markets, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and the price of our ordinary shares or ADSs. Development of the relevant industries is subject to various factors, including but not limited to market fluctuations of prices of commodities, general political or economic conditions, technology development, government regulations and investment plans and changes in domestic and global production capacity, many of which are beyond our control.
We are unable to predict cycles of the global and domestic economies. Concerns over inflation, energy costs, geopolitical issues, trade tensions, the availability and cost of credit, unemployment, consumer confidence, declining asset values, capital market volatility and liquidity issues have created difficult operating conditions for us in the past and may continue to do so in the future. For example, since 2018, there were continuing trade tensions between the U.S. and China, resulting in increased tariffs and escalating tensions between the two countries. On January 15, 2020, the two parties signed the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement. Since then, the PRC government and the U.S. government have granted tariff exemptions on certain goods. However, it is still unclear when future phase negotiations between the two countries will begin and whether there will be further trade agreements following such negotiations. It is also unclear if future disputes will occur or the two countries will be able to negotiate the issues to restore a mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation. Future actions or escalations by either the U.S. government or the PRC government could have a material adverse effect on the business environment in general, global, Chinese and/or U.S. economic conditions and the stability of global, Chinese and/or U.S. financial markets, which in turn, may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, on November 12, 2020, the President of the United States signed Executive Order 13959 (as subsequently amended on January 13, 2021 and June 3, 2021, the “Executive Order”), which prohibits certain transactions in securities of certain entities listed in the annex to the Executive Order (each, a “Restricted Entity”). Currently, neither we nor Chinalco are on the list of Restricted Entities. However, if the Executive Order is further amended, or the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury exercised its power pursuant to the Executive Order, to include us or Chinalco as a Restricted Entity in the future, U.S. persons as defined under the Executive Order may be prohibited from purchasing our securities. As a result, the value and liquidity of our ADSs may be materially and adversely affected, which may lead to significant volatility in our ADS trading price. Furthermore, the PRC government has, from time to time, adjusted its monetary, fiscal and other policies and measures to manage the rate of growth of the economy or the overheating and overcapacity in certain industries or markets. In addition, the global outbreak of COVID-19 and the efforts to contain it have negatively impacted the global economy and financial markets. For further details of the impact of outbreak of COVID-19 on the general economy, please refer to “– Our business may be materially and adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The global economy began to recover from the COVID-19-induced recession in 2021 and the commodities market had an unparalleled growth. Due to the recovery of demand for aluminum globally, in 2021, the average spot price of alumina on the Australian FOB increased by 21.8% to US$331 per tonne and the average international cash price for primary aluminum on the LME increased by 45.5% to US$2,480 per tonne. During the same period, the average spot price of alumina in the domestic market increased to RMB2,798 per tonne, representing an increase of 19.7% compared to 2020. Although the overall trend of the industries we are in was upward in 2021, there is no assurance that there will not be any further and significant fluctuations, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Recently, the Russia-Ukraine military conflict has caused, and continues to intensify, significant geopolitical tensions in Europe and across the world. The resulting economic sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, the UK and other countries may continue to significantly impact supply chains, lead to market disruptions including significant volatility in commodities’ prices, and bring heightened near-term uncertainty to the global financial system. Escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict could lead to other additional impacts which may adversely affect our business, such as disruption of international trade flows, extreme market pricing volatility, with particular impact on the energy sector, industrial supply chains, shipping, and regulatory and contractual uncertainty, and increased geopolitical tensions around the world. These factors could disrupt the global markets in ways that are difficult to predict and estimate in advance as to their potential impact on our business, financial position, or operational results.
As a result of the foregoing, the global and domestic economic conditions or any particular industry in which we operate or which we serve may grow at a lower-than-expected rate or even experience a downturn. Uncertainty about future economic conditions makes it challenging for us to forecast our results of operations, make business decisions and identify risks that may affect our business. If we are not able to timely and appropriately adapt to changes resulting from the difficult macroeconomic environment, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
Volatility in the prices of alumina, primary aluminum, other non-ferrous metal and other commodities may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The prices of the products we produce and trade, including alumina, primary aluminum, other non-ferrous metal and coal products, have experienced significant fluctuation historically and are expected to continually fluctuate in response to general economic conditions, supply and demand, the level of inventories, interruption caused by unforeseen international or domestic events such as global outbreak of COVID-19, uncertainty of or changes in domestic or foreign laws or policies and many other factors, which are beyond our control.
We price our alumina and primary aluminum products by reference to international and domestic market prices, and domestic supply and demand, each of which may fluctuate beyond our control. We may not be able to effectively respond to a sudden fluctuation in alumina or primary aluminum prices. For example, due to the recovery of demand for aluminum globally, in 2021, the average spot price of alumina on the Australian FOB increased by 21.8% to US$331 per tonne and the average international cash price for primary aluminum on the LME increased by 45.5% to US$2,480 per tonne. During the same period, the average spot price of alumina in the domestic market increased to RMB2,798 per tonne, representing an increase of 19.7% compared to 2020, and the average spot prices of primary aluminum at SHFE increased by 34.2% to RMB18,953 per tonne. In 2021, the average external selling prices for our self-produced alumina and primary aluminum, regardless whether the sales were recognized in our trading segment, were RMB2,785 per tonne and RMB19,099 per tonne, respectively, representing an increase by 13.4% and 34.8%, respectively, as compared to the prices in 2020. Nevertheless, the prices of alumina and primary aluminum may decline due to, among other things, decrease in market demand of those products and any slowdown of economic growth in China. Because our prices are affected by a variety of factors, most of which are beyond our control, we may not be able to respond promptly to the fluctuation in alumina or primary aluminum prices in international market or domestic market. There is no assurance that there will not be any further and significant fluctuations in prices of our key products, including alumina and primary aluminum, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, since our profit margin for trading non-ferrous metal products and coal products is based on price fluctuations in the short term, we need to make the correct prediction of the price fluctuations of these commodities on the markets to maintain our profit margin. If market price fluctuations on the market do not match our prediction, we may incur substantial losses.
In addition, as we generate profit from the differences between the purchase and sales prices of the non-ferrous metal products and the coal products we deal in, significant fluctuations in these prices may cause the value of the outsourced products in transit or in inventory to decline, and if the carrying value of our existing inventories exceeds the market price in the future periods, we may need to make additional provisions for our inventories’ value, which may have a material and adverse effect on our profit level and other financial performance. See Note 13 to our audited consolidated financial statements for information about our inventories. As a result, any significant fluctuation in market prices for these commodities could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business requires substantial capital expenditures that we may not always be able to obtain at reasonable costs and on acceptable terms.
Our plans to upgrade and expand our production capacity will require substantial capital expenditures. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, our total capital expenditures were approximately RMB11.8 billion, RMB4.6 billion and RMB4.7 billion, respectively. We expect our estimated capital expenditures in 2022 to be a total of approximately RMB6.8 billion. See “Item 4. Information on the Company – D. Property, Plants and Equipment – Our Expansion” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects – B. Liquidity and Capital Resources – Capital Expenditures and Capital Commitments” for details of our expansion and capital expenditures. We may also need additional funding for debt servicing, working capital, other investments, potential acquisitions and joint ventures and other corporate requirements.
We may need to seek external financing, such as bank and other loans as well as bond offerings, to satisfy our capital needs if cash generated from our operations is insufficient to fund our capital expenditures or if our actual capital expenditures and investments exceed our plans. Our ability to obtain external financing at reasonable costs and on acceptable terms is subject to a variety of factors, such as our credit ratings, financial market conditions and our past or projected financial performance. Although we have been profitable in recent years, we cannot guarantee that we will not incur losses in the future, in which case the rating agencies may downgrade our credit ratings. In addition, if financial markets experience significant volatility and disruption, it may result in a decrease in the availability of liquidity and credit for borrowers and increase in interest rate or other financing cost. Failure to obtain sufficient funding at reasonable costs and on acceptable terms for our development plans could delay, reduce the scope of, or eliminate future activities or growth initiatives and adversely affect our business and prospects.
Our business may be materially and adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the end of 2019, COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel strain of coronavirus, has spread in China and globally, and the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has led the governments and other authorities around the world, including China, to impose measures intended to control its spread, including quarantines, restrictions on travel and public gatherings, temporary closure of certain businesses and facilities. While still continuing, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as efforts to contain it, has caused significant economic and financial disruptions around the world, including disruption on manufacturing operations, logistics and global supply chains and significant volatility and disruption of financial markets. We have taken measures to control and manage the impact of COVID-19, including measures to protect health and safety of our employees, maintain ventilation system and promote vaccinations among all employees. However, if the virus, in particular the Delta and Omicron variants thereof, further spreads worldwide, including China or other jurisdictions in which we, our suppliers or customers operate or have property or projects, or further control measures are adopted and continue to stay in place in these or other regions, we may face further disruptions on our normal operation, sales, project construction, supply chain and transportation channel, labor shortage and other limitations on our business activities due to restrictions on our employees’ ability to travel, infection of management and employees, suspension or closure of facilities, additional costs arising from precautionary infection control and hygienic measures, and other impacts, which could be material and adverse to our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, China has recently experienced upticks in cases that have prompted selective restrictions in affected regions such as Shanghai.
In addition, the market prices of primary aluminum and alumina have been volatile since the COVID-19 outbreak. Although, because of the recovery of the downstream business activities in China and globally, the market prices of primary aluminum and alumina have increased in 2021, there is no assurance that the demand for primary aluminum and alumina will not be weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic any more, and any volatility or decreases of the market prices of primary aluminum and alumina may result in reduction of our revenue and profit, increase of our inventory amount and other material and adverse impacts on our financial condition and results of operations.
If the global public health crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic continues, it may have an adverse impact on the global and China’s economies, which may, among other things, exacerbate turbulence in commodity market, discourage or disrupt investment and production, increase total inventories of primary aluminum or other products in the industry, bring more uncertainty to the consumption of aluminum-made products and the prices of primary aluminum and alumina, and cause other adverse impacts on the industry we are in. An economic downturn including financial market disruption, or a market perception that this situation may occur or develop, may also cause increase of financing costs, or reduce available sources of financing for operation or expansion. In addition, significant financial market volatility and uncertainty may adversely affect the market prices of our ordinary shares and ADSs. Credit risks of customers and suppliers and other counterparty risks may also increase. These factors may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We may also experience negative effects from other future health epidemics or outbreaks beyond our control. These events are impossible to forecast and difficult to prevent. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
Our operations consume substantial amounts of electricity, and our profitability may decline if electricity costs rise or if our electricity supplies are interrupted.
Our operations consume substantial amounts of electricity. Although we generally expect to meet the electricity consumption requirements for our alumina refineries and primary aluminum smelters from a combination of internal and external sources, our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected by any significant increase in electricity costs or interruptions in electricity supply.
Cost of electricity is the principal production cost in our primary aluminum operations. Our average electricity cost per kWh (including tax) of our primary aluminum smelters increased by 27% from 2020 to 2021. There is no assurance that the electricity costs will not further increase in the future. For instance, in 2021, the PRC government issued certain policies related to electricity pricing that could increase our electricity cost. See “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview – Regulatory Overview – Electricity Supply and Price” for further details. If we are unable to pass on increases in energy costs to our customers, our operating margin, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
With the implementation of the policy of “carbon dioxide peaking and carbon neutrality,” a series of policies have been introduced to control both the total amount and intensity of energy consumption and restrict the energy-intensive and high-emission industries, resulting in drastic market fluctuations and a sharp increase in production costs. A series of stringent measures such as electricity consumption restriction and production restriction and restriction on approval of projects have been adopted in various regions, resulting in large-scale production reduction in the industry, which led to a shortage of supply and aggravated the uncertainty of new or resumed production capacity in the second half of 2021. We cannot assure you that our production capacity will not be further affected by such policies, the occurrence of which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, interruptions in the supply of electricity can result in costly production shutdowns, increased costs associated with restarting production and the waste of production in progress. A sudden loss of electricity, if prolonged, can cause damage to or the destruction of production equipment and facilities. In such an event, we may need to expend significant capital and resources to repair or replace the affected production equipment to restore our production capacity. In the past, various regions across China experienced shortages and disruptions in electricity supply, especially during peak demand summer season or under severe weather conditions. For instance, certain subsidiaries of our Company were affected by electricity shortage due to electricity consumption restriction in the second and third quarters of 2021 and the suspended production volume reached a maximum of 3% of our total production capacity in October and November 2021. We cannot assure you that our operations will not suffer from shortages or disruptions in electricity supply, the occurrence of which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our operations consume substantial amounts of coal, and our operations may be adversely affected if we are not able to procure sufficient coal or if coal prices rise significantly.
We rely heavily on coal as our energy and fuel source in our operations. As we increase our alumina refining capacity, our consumption of coal will increase accordingly. If we are not able to obtain the amount of coal needed for our production due to a shortage of coal, constraints on coal transportation or any other reason, we may be forced to reduce our production output or suspend our alumina refining operations, which could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. Although we have acquired equity interest in a number of coal mines, we expect to continue to rely substantially on third-party coal suppliers for the supply of coal. Our average purchase price per unit tonne of thermal coal increased by approximately 52.4% in 2021 from the level in 2020. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects – A. Operating Results – Overview – Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations – Manufacturing Costs.” There is no assurance that the coal prices will not further increase or fluctuate. If we are unable to pass on increases or otherwise significant fluctuations in coal prices to our customers or offset price increases through productivity improvements, our operating margin, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
Our business and industry may be affected by the development of alternative energy sources and climate change.
Our operations consume substantial amounts of coal, the combustion of which generates significant greenhouse gas and other pollutants, and negatively contributes to climate change. A number of governments or governmental bodies have introduced or are contemplating legislative and regulatory changes in response to the potential impacts of climate change. These regulatory mechanisms may impact our operations directly or indirectly through our customers or supply chain. For example, the deepening of supply-side structural reform and the policy of “carbon dioxide peaking and carbon neutrality” have urged the industry in which we operate to optimize the energy consumption structure, reduce energy consumption, and develop deep-processing products with high added values. We may have to increase our capital expenditures in order to comply with such revised or new legislation or regulations, and changes to our profit or loss may occur due to increased or decreased demand for our products and indirectly due to changes in costs of goods sold, which may adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
In addition, we have invested in coal mining operations. Although revenues attributable to our energy segment accounted for only approximately 2.8% of our total revenues in 2021 (after elimination of inter-segment sales), we might still be affected by any change on the PRC thermal power industry, which have relied on coal as main source of fuel. The PRC thermal power industry may be affected by the development of alternative energy sources, climate change and global environmental factors. In particular, pursuant to the environmental protection goal set in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, the PRC government plans to continue to encourage the development of new energy sources from 2021 to 2025. As such, alternative energy industries may rapidly develop and gradually gain mainstream acceptance in the PRC and the rest of the world. If alternative energy technologies continue to develop and prove suitable for wide commercial application in the PRC and overseas, demand for conventional energy sources, such as coal, could be reduced. Such reduction in demand for coal could have a material adverse effect on the coal mining industry and, consequently, negatively affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may not be able to continue competing successfully in the markets in which we operate.
In 2021, we supplied approximately 43.8% of our total production of alumina to our own smelters and sold substantially all of the remaining self-produced alumina and all of our self-produced primary aluminum to our domestic customers. Our alumina (with chemical alumina products included) and primary aluminum production represented approximately 23.6% and 10.1%, respectively, of total domestic production in China in 2021. We face competition from both domestic and international alumina and primary aluminum producers. Our principal competitors are major domestic refineries and smelters. These producers compete with our alumina and primary aluminum operations on the basis of product cost, quality and pricing. In addition, we face increasing competition from international alumina and primary aluminum suppliers as a result of the elimination of tariffs on imports of primary aluminum and alumina into China. See “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview – Competition” for further details.
Increasing competition in our product markets may reduce our selling prices or sales volumes, which will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. If we are unable to price our products competitively, maintain or increase our current share of China’s alumina and primary aluminum markets or otherwise maintain our competitiveness, our financial condition, results of operations and profitability could be materially and adversely affected.
Our overseas expansion exposes us to political and economic risks, commercial instability and events beyond our control in the countries in which we plan to operate.
We have overseas projects from time to time. For example, in 2020, we completed the construction of the Boffa Project, a project for the construction and development of a bauxite mine located in Boffa, Guinea. Although the Boffa Project has been completed and put into production, due to uncertainties involved in the overseas projects, we cannot assure you that all of our overseas expansion or investments will be successful or that we will not suffer foreign exchange losses in connection with our overseas investment.
In addition, operations in the overseas markets may also expose us to a number of risks including expropriation and nationalization of our assets in foreign countries, civil unrest, acts of terrorism, war, or other armed conflict; shortages of construction equipment and materials; severe weather conditions; social security, public health and safety, labors and construction safety and similar issues; epidemic diseases and infectious diseases; natural disasters; inflation; currency fluctuations, devaluations and conversion restrictions; confiscatory taxation or other adverse tax policies, governmental activities that limit or disrupt markets, restrict payments or limit the movement of funds, governmental activities that may result in the deprivation of contractual rights; lack of a well-developed legal system that makes it difficult to enforce our contractual rights; uncertainties in laws and policies; and governmental activities that may result in the inability to obtain or retain licenses required for operations. For example, in September 2021, President of Guinea was captured by the country’s armed forces in a coup. While our Boffa Project has not been materially impacted as of the date of this annual report, we cannot assure you that it will not be adversely affected given the fluid situation in Guinea.
Our profitability and operations could be adversely affected if we are unable to obtain a steady supply of raw materials at competitive prices.
Historically, the price for bauxite, our most important raw material for alumina production, has been volatile. We obtain bauxite for our operations from our mines and external suppliers. See “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview – Raw Materials – Alumina – Supply.” The extents to which we procure bauxite from each of these sources affect the security of our supply or cost of bauxite. The supply of bauxite could be affected by various factors, including geographic conditions of bauxite mines, government policies, market prices and competition, many of which are beyond our control. We rely on overseas suppliers to obtain a portion of bauxite we use for production. Indonesia used to be a major source of our imported bauxite. As a result of the ban imposed by the Indonesia Government on the exportation of unprocessed bauxite and nickel, since January 2014, we have not been able to import bauxite from Indonesia for the use of our alumina refineries in China, and our operation of bauxite mining in Indonesia has been suspended since September 2014. See “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview – Our Mines” for more details of our bauxite mines in Indonesia. If we exhaust our stockpiles or our procurement of bauxite from external suppliers is interrupted for any reasons, and cannot find an alternative source of bauxite at competitive prices, our financial condition, results of operations and profitability could be adversely affected.
In addition, our results of operations can be affected by increases in the cost of other raw materials and other key inputs such as energy. If we cannot obtain a steady supply of key raw materials at competitive prices, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Any transportation interruption or any material increase in our transportation costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our operations require the reliable transportation of raw materials and supplies to our refining and smelting sites and finished products to our customers. Our alumina and primary aluminum products are mainly transported by rail and trucks. There is no assurance that we can always enjoy sufficient transportation capacity or we will not experience transportation interruption in the future. Furthermore, natural disasters, severe weather conditions and outbreak of epidemic diseases and infectious diseases may cause interruption to the transportation system, which could in turn affect the transportation of our products. Please refer to “– Our business may be materially and adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic” for further details of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the transportation system. In addition, any changes in fuel prices or fuel supply may be unpredictable and beyond our control. There is no assurance that shortage of fuel will not occur in the future. Any surge in fuel prices or shortage of fuel supply may lead to increases in our operation and transportation costs. If we are unable to make timely deliveries due to logistical and transportation disruptions, or transfer the increased costs to our customers, our production, reputation and results of operations may be adversely affected.
Estimates of mineral reserves and mineral resources are uncertain and the volume and grade of minerals actually extracted may vary from our estimates.
Our estimates of mineral reserves and mineral resources have been prepared in accordance with the disclosure requirements of Subpart 1300 of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Regulation S-K (“Regulation S-K 1300”). Compliance with Regulation S-K 1300 may be subject to varying interpretations in some cases due to their lack of specificity, which could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and substantial costs associated with compliance.
There are numerous uncertainties inherent in mineral estimates. Such estimates are, to a large extent, based on assumed prices for the commodities we produce, primarily bauxite and coal, and interpretations of geologic data obtained from drill holes and other exploration techniques, which may not necessarily be indicative of future results. Our mineral estimates are based on the latest available geological and geotechnical studies. We conduct ongoing studies of our mining properties to optimize economic values and to manage risk. Valid estimates made at a given time may significantly change when new information becomes available.
Estimates of mineral reserves, or the cost at which we anticipate the mineral reserves will be recovered, are based on assumptions, such as prices of alumina, aluminum and coal and other economic inputs. Changes to such assumptions may require revisions to reserve estimates which could affect our asset carrying values and may also negatively impact our future financial condition and results. We revise our mine plans and estimates of recoverable proven and probable mineral reserves as required in accordance with the latest available studies. Until mineral reserves are actually mined and processed, the quantity of minerals and grades must be considered as an estimate only.
Additionally, the term “mineral resources” does not indicate recoverable proven and probable mineral reserves as defined by Regulation S-K 1300. Estimates of mineral resources are subject to further exploration and evaluation of development and operating costs, grades, recoveries and other material factors, and, therefore, are subject to considerable uncertainty. Certain mineral resources may not meet the threshold for mineral reserve modifying factors, such as engineering, legal and/or economic feasibility, that would allow for the conversion to mineral reserves. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that the estimated mineral resources not included in mineral reserves will become recoverable proven and probable mineral reserves.
The estimation of mineral resources and reserves is a subjective process that is partially dependent upon the judgment of the qualified person preparing such estimates. The process relies on the quantity and quality of available data and is based on knowledge, mining experience, statistical analysis of drilling results and industry practices. If the market prices for the commodities we produce decline from assumed levels, if production costs increase or recovery rates decrease, or if applicable laws and regulations are adversely changed, we can offer no assurance that the mineral reserves can be mined or processed profitably. If we determine that certain of our estimated recoverable proven and probable mineral reserves have become uneconomic, this may ultimately lead to a reduction in our aggregate reported mineral reserves, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our previous adjustments of our business segments and historical results may not be indicative of our future prospects.
In 2013, we entered into a new business segment, the energy segment, through acquisition of Ningxia Energy. In the past few years, we have streamlined our existing business to focus on the productions of alumina and primary aluminum. For instance, in December 2018, we acquired 50% equity interests in Shanxi Huaxing through the Shanghai United Assets and Equity Exchange at a price of approximately RMB2,665.2 million from Baotou Transportation Investment Group Co., Ltd. Upon completion of the acquisition, Shanxi Huaxing became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. The acquisition is conducted for purposes of enhancing our profitability and is in line with our strategic layout of alumina and aluminum business, as the increase of our shareholding in Shanxi Huaxing, an alumina plant, is expected to enhance the synergy with our primary aluminum production in Shanxi, where we have newly added production capacity of primary aluminum.
There is no assurance that we will enter into a new business segment or continue to streamline our existing business as we have done so in the past. Moreover, we cannot assure you that the benefit of entering into a new business segment or streamlining our existing business will be fully realized as expected or at all.
While our revenue increased by 45.0% from RMB185,990.6 million in 2020 to RMB269,748.2 million in 2021, primarily due to the year-on-year increase in the prices of alumina and electrolytic aluminum, the financial performance was driven by a wide range of factors, many of which are out of our control or may not be sustainable or indicative of future growth or performance, such as the prices of our products and raw materials. As a result, our historical results may not be indicative of our future prospects and results of operations.
Our failure to successfully manage our business expansion, including our expansion into new areas of business, would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and prospects.
We have made investments in business expansion in line with our development strategy through organic growth, acquisitions and joint ventures. In addition, we may, from time to time and when we deem appropriate, expand into new industries which we believe have synergies with our existing operations.
Our expansion has created, and will continue to place, substantial demand on our resources. Managing our growth and integrating the acquired businesses will require us to, among other things:
|●||comply with the laws, regulations and policies applicable to the acquired businesses, including obtaining timely approval for the construction or expansion of production and mining facilities as required under the relevant laws of PRC and foreign jurisdictions;|
|●||maintain adequate control on our business expansion to prevent, among other things, project delays or cost overruns;|
|●||accumulate expertise and experience in managing the new businesses;|
|●||gain market acceptance for new products and services and establish relationships with new customers and suppliers;|
|●||achieve sufficient utilization of new production facilities to recover costs;|
|●||manage relationships with employees, customers and business partners during the course of our business expansion and integration of new businesses;|
|●||attract, train and motivate members of our management and qualified workforce to support successful business expansion;|
|●||access debt, equity or other capital resources to fund our business expansion, which may divert financial resources otherwise available for other purposes;|
|●||divert significant management attention and resources from our other businesses; and|
|●||strengthen our operational, financial and management controls, particularly those of our newly acquired subsidiaries, to maintain the reliability of our reporting processes.|
Any significant difficulty in meeting the foregoing or similar requirements could delay or otherwise constrain our ability to implement our expansion plans, or result in failure to achieve the expected benefits of the combination or acquisition or write-offs of acquired assets or investments, which in turn would limit our ability to increase operational efficiency, reduce marginal manufacturing costs or otherwise strengthen our market position. Failure to obtain the intended economic benefits from the business expansion could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. In addition, we may also experience mixed results from our expansion plans in the short term.
Furthermore, there is no assurance that we will be able to identify attractive acquisition targets, obtain favorable deal terms in any acquisition, secure applicable governmental approvals for any proposed investments, accurately estimate the mineral resources and reserves of these acquisition targets or obtain the necessary funding to complete such acquisitions on commercially acceptable terms or at all. Acquisitions may result in the incurrence and inheritance of debts and other liabilities, assumption of potential legal liabilities in respect of the acquired businesses, and incurrence of impairment charges related to goodwill and other intangible assets, any of which could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. In particular, if any of the acquired businesses fail to perform as we expect, we may be required to recognize a significant impairment charge, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. As a result, there can be no assurance that we will be able to achieve the strategic purpose of any acquisition, the desired level of operational integration or our investment return target.
Our joint ventures and strategic investments may not be successful.
We may from time to time enter into joint ventures or make strategic investments to grow our business and operations. For example, we have participated in joint ventures and strategic investments in coal mining, in line with our development strategy to diversify our product offering and partially offset our future energy costs. In addition, we have acted as joint venture partner or strategic investor in certain projects which engage in primary aluminum and aluminum alloy manufacturing to diversify our product offering, strategically position ourselves along the industrial chain and facilitate our enterprise transformation and upgrade. If our joint ventures, strategic investments or other investments experience fluctuation in performance or incur losses, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected. For further details of certain of our joint ventures and strategic investments, please see “Item 4. Information on the Company – A. History and Development of the Company” and “Item 4. Information on the Company – D. Property, Plants and Equipment – Our Expansion.”
In addition, our joint ventures and subsidiaries which operate coal mines have been facing increasing uncertainties. While the coal price rose rapidly in the first three quarters of 2021 due to short supply, it then declined to a reasonable range in November 2021 due to the policy adjustment and increase of coal supply. If coal price further decreases in the future, the business, financial condition and results of operations of these joint ventures which operate coal mines may be adversely affected.
Failure to maintain optimal utilization of our production facilities will adversely affect our gross and operating margins.
During the past few years, we expanded the production capacity by completing our construction, upgrading or remolding of some of our alumina and primary aluminum production facilities. If we are able to maintain satisfactory facility utilization rates and increase our production output, this increase in our production capacity would enable us to reduce our unit costs through economies of scale, as fixed costs will be spread over a higher volume of output units. Conversely, underutilization of our existing and newly acquired or constructed production facilities may increase our marginal production costs and prevent us from realizing the intended economic benefits of our expansion.
Since 2013, we have implemented flexible production arrangements from time to time for certain alumina and primary aluminum production facilities in response to prevailing market conditions and government policies. Although we did not implement flexible production arrangements in 2021, we cannot assure you that we will not do so in the future. We may also increase our external purchases of alumina and primary aluminum for trading purposes to capitalize on fluctuating market prices and to enhance resource planning to achieve cost savings in our production.