* Rio seeks premium of $95/T while Rusal offers $110/T
* Japanese buyers aim at low $80/T
* Negotiations to continue through December (Recasts with other producers’ offers and buyers’ comments)
By Yuka Obayashi
TOKYO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Some big aluminium producers seek a premium of $95-$110 per tonne from Japanese buyers for primary metal shipments in the January to March period, up 27-47 percent from the previous quarter, five sources involved in pricing talks said on Friday.
Japan is Asia’s biggest importer of the metal and the premiums for primary metal shipments it agrees to pay each quarter over the London Metal Exchange (LME) cash price set the benchmark for the region.
Any increase in the quarterly premiums would mark the first rise in three quarters, and reflect tightening supply, although buyers said the initial offers were too high, the sources said.
For the October-December quarter, Japanese aluminium buyers agreed to pay a premium of $75 a tonne for the metal PREM-ALUM-JP, down 17 percent to 19 percent from the prior quarter, on softer spot premiums amid a supply glut.
Rio Tinto Ltd has offered Japanese buyers a premium of $95 per tonne following a drop in local inventories and higher demand for imported aluminium in China, while Rusal has sought a premium of $110 per tonne to reflect higher U.S. premiums, the sources said.
Aluminium stocks at three major Japanese ports fell 2.9 percent in October from the previous month to 278,200 tonnes, trading house Marubeni Corp said on Monday.
Buyers are not ready to accept the offers, the sources said.
“The $110 proposal is way too high and the $95 offer is still above the levels that we think are appropriate,” said a source at a trading house who declined to be named.
“We will need to accept a hike from the current quarter amid tighter supply in Asia, but only if premiums come in the low $80 a tonne,” a source at a fabricator said.
The quarterly pricing negotiations are held between Japanese buyers and global miners including Rio, Alcoa Inc and South32 Ltd.
Rusal has not been involved in the quarterly pricing talks over the past couple of years, but the Russian company sent an email to its customers in Japan this week in an apparent bid to have an influence in the negotiations, the sources said.
Some talks started this week and are expected to continue until next month.
Rio and Rusal declined to comment.
Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Susan Fenton