China said it would release its reserves of major industrial metals, including aluminium, copper and zinc in batches "in the near future," reports say.

The plan is part of measures by China's stockpiling body -- the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration -- to boost market supply and guide commodity prices to a return to normal ranges.

China is the world's leading metals consumer and a release of the country's metals reserves could significantly affect global supply and demand balances, economists say.

The reserves will be sold to non-ferrous metal processing and manufacturing companies through a public bidding, the NFSRA said.

As the world's largest buyer of industrial commodities, China is capitalizing on its market clout to try to contain the sharp increase in the world's metal prices over the past year, including a 67% surge in copper, an indicator of macroeconomic health.

Citigroup estimates the NFSRA, which does not disclose its reserve volumes, to have in its disposal around 2 million tons of copper, 800,000 tons of aluminium, and 350,000 tons of zinc.

Some metal prices, including copper, had already started to drop in recent weeks, in the wake of market sentiment that global supply levels did not merit such rallies, The Wall Street Journal said.

"With China announcing they will start to periodically release reserves of aluminium, copper, and zinc, we're seeing the country clearly has intentions to do all it can to quell the rise in commodity prices," Yahoo! Finance quoted IG analyst Joshua Mahony as saying.

Meanwhile, China's State Council said in May it would take measures to ensure supply and stable prices for commodities, and regulators had previously cautioned it would impose a zero-tolerance policy to market manipulation or hoarding of metals, reports said.