KUNMING, China - China is estimated to have stocks of 1.2 million-1.5 million tonnes of aluminium, the vice-chairman of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, told an industry conference.

Wen Xianjun's estimate was higher than the 800,000-1 million tonnes figure given by many smelter officials and traders.

Producers have been rebuilding stocks in the socond half, Wen said at Friday's conference in Kunming city, Yunnan province, referring to fabricators' stockpiles.

He added that restocking was because of expectations of higher aluminium prices in the future.

Wen said he expected aluminium prices to rise next year as production costs increased.

Costs will be the main supportive factor for prices, he said.

High energy costs were limiting profits at power-hungry smelters, even though aluminium prices SAFc3 had risen by a third so far this year.

Wen said power fees made up about 42 percent of smelting costs, compared with about 25 percent at overseas smelters.

A central government scheme to allow some aluminium smelters to buy electricity directly from power plants would reduce fees but most smelters had yet to settle such agreements, he said. (Editing by Chris Lewis)