Trader IXM will shrink aluminium unit to focus on core business

30th January 2024 By: Bloomberg

IXM, the trading house owned by Chinese miner CMOC Group, is stepping back from the aluminum market to focus on its core business.

The trading house, the third-largest metals trader behind Trafigura Group and Glencore, “has decided to proactively downsize its aluminum business in 2024,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. The decision will lead to some redundancies, while some staff from the aluminum division will be rotated to other roles within the company.

Metals traders have struggled in the past two years amid lackluster industrial demand and sluggish markets, while their peers in energy and agriculture markets have racked up record profits. Aluminum traders, who compete with banks to finance large volumes of metal, have been particularly hard hit by the rise in interest rates.

IXM is a key link between the Chinese battery industry and the world, and CEO Kenny Ives has sought maximise the trader’s capabilities in the commodities that its parent produces. CMOC last year overtook Glencore to become the world’s largest cobalt miner, making IXM the world’s largest cobalt trader. It’s also a significant producer of copper, with plans to expand in nickel and lithium, and has a strategic partnership with 25% shareholder Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., the world’s largest battery maker.

Despite the challenges in aluminum, IXM saw “record financial performance” in 2023, according to the statement.

“This decision comes as part of our broader strategy to focus our resources on our core metals and metal concentrates marketing and trading business,” the company said.

IXM said it would “remain alert to opportunities” in aluminum and “if we see attractive opportunities we will act.”