BEIJING, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Chinese aluminium firms that are entitled to replace capacity shuttered over the past seven years must do so by the end of 2018, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Wednesday. The rule applies to companies producing molten aluminium or aluminiun ingots, and whether they are replacing capacity internally or via mergers and acquisitions, the MIIT said in a statement on its website. China, the world’s biggest aluminium producer, last year closed 3 million tonnes to 4 million tonnes of illegal smelting capacity as part of Beijing’s supply-side reforms. Companies with legal but outdated production are entitled to replace their capacity with more modern facilities, provided they are on a government list. Any capacity shut during 2011-17 that is not replaced by the end of 2018 will not be able to count as replacement capacity, the MIIT said.