MELBOURNE, Aug 10 (Reuters) - China aluminum extended gains on Thursday to strike its highest since 2012, with investors flooding into the market on prospects that capacity closures in the world's top producer would tighten supply.
* SHFE ALUMINIUM: Shanghai Futures Exchange aluminum had climbed 1.4 percent to 16,275 yuan ($2,443) a tonne by 0240 GMT, having earlier hit its highest since May 2012 at 16,460 yuan. Open interest flew to a record-high around 900,000 lots and was up by 50 percent since Aug. 1.
* LME ALUMINIUM: LME aluminum hovered near its highest in more than two years above $2,000 a tonne.
* CHINA POLLUTION CRACKDOWN: China's push for blue skies is roiling supplies and boosting prices of key raw materials from soymeal to ferroalloys as the government ramps up smog checks and forces some factories in the world's top commodities market to close or suspend operations.
* LME COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper was trading at $6,470 a tonne, down 0.2 percent. That followed a slightly softer close the day before, when investors booked profits after prices marked their highest since December 2014 at $6,515 a tonne.
* SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper slipped by half a percent to 50,890 yuan a tonne.
* LME LEAD: London lead played catch up, rising nearly 1.7 percent. China research firm Antaike said the start of environmental inspections in Sichuan province had prompted 60 percent of local lead-zinc mines to shut down for month-long maintenance. That could mean lower supplies of zinc and lead in August and September. 1/8nL5N1KV2YU
* CHINA ALUMINIUM: China's top aluminum foil producers are preparing a legal defense challenging a preliminary U.S. ruling on Wednesday that would impose hefty penalties on imports from the world's top producers, two sources familiar with the matter said.
* NICKEL CUTS: First Quantum Minerals Ltd said on Wednesday it planned to suspend operations at its Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia at the beginning of next month due to persistently weak nickel prices, affecting around 450 employees and contractors.
* NICKEL DEMAND: The rise of electric vehicles is driving the world's biggest mining house, BHP,, to switch gears and invest heavily in its long-suffering nickel business.
* NICKEL SUPPLY: Nickel producer Vale Indonesia said Indonesia's recent policy shift to allow ore exports is helping keep global prices of the metal low, and complicating efforts to establish partnerships for new smelter investments.
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DATA/EVENTS 0645 France Industrial output Jun 0830 Britain Industrial output Jun 1230 U.S. Weekly jobless claims PRICES
BASE METALS PRICES 0239 GMT Three month LME copper 6471 Most active ShFE copper 50860 Three month LME aluminum 2039.5 Most active ShFE aluminum 16270 Three month LME zinc 2949 Most active ShFE zinc 24400 Three month LME lead 2389 Most active ShFE lead 19365 Three month LME nickel 10825 Most active ShFE nickel 88170 Three month LME tin 20375 Most active ShFE tin 147010
BASE METALS ARBITRAGE
LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 615.9 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 471.73 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 1029.19 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 46.05 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1846.46
($1 = 6.6625 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford)