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Rusal's aluminium output rises with new smelter's trial run
Russian aluminium giant Rusal increased its first-quarter production by 1.7 percent to 916,000 tonnes, owing to a new smelter and several debt refinancing deals, the company said on Friday.
Rusal, which last year was overtaken by China's Hongqiao as the world's biggest aluminium producer, has been hit by weak prices for the metal. However, limited restarts of smelters in China were helping the market, it said.
Rusal's first-quarter sales rose 2.7 percent on the same period last year to 957,000 tonnes and included 39,000 tonnes produced in a trial run by its new Boguchansk smelter in Russia's Krasnoyarsk region.
The official start-up for this smelter, which Rusal built in partnership with power generating group Rushydro, has been repeatedly postponed amid weak aluminium prices.
The smelter's first stage has an annual capacity of 147,000 tonnes and its formal opening will be announced as soon as Rusal, controlled by Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska and part-owned by Glencore, receives technical approval from the Russian authorities, it said in March.
However, Boguchansk's first-quarter production shows the smelter will manage to reach its annual capacity this year if it keeps production running at the same pace in the remaining quarters.
On Friday, Rusal said only that it planned to officially start the smelter later this year.
It also said aluminium prices on the London Metal Exchange have grown by more than 10 percent so far this year amid growing metal supply tightness and very limited restarts in China.
Three-month aluminium hit a nine-month peak on Friday as speculators pushed prices higher in the wake of a weaker dollar and firmer oil prices, but analysts were cautious.
"Although the aluminium price strengthening in March and April ... prompts a stronger outlook for second-quarter earnings, we think it might prove temporary," VTB Capital said in a note following Rusal's results on Friday.
Rusal's shares fell 1.8 percent in Hong Kong on Friday.
Rusal also said that it would repay $524 million of its debt to a syndicate of international banks, using a refinancing tranche and $109 million of its own funds.
It also entered into new credit facilities for up to $178 million with Russia's Gazprombank for its debt refinancing with the same bank and agreed with Sberbank , the country's largest lender, a new credit limit of up to $100 million.