Ukraine conflict halts output at steelmaker Metinvest's coke plant

MOSCOW, July 29 Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:35am EDT

MOSCOW, July 29 (Reuters) - The fighting in eastern Ukraine has forced Metinvest, the country's largest steelmaker, to shut off all production at its main coke plant, it said on Tuesday, days after warning of the economic risks posed by the clashes.

Pro-Russian rebels have been fighting government forces since April when they set up separatist republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, heavily industrialised regions that together account for nearly 18 percent of Ukrainian gross domestic product (GDP).

The Avdiivka coke facility, which produces 40 percent of Ukraine's coke - a key ingredient in steelmaking - was hit by shelling last week and although Metinvest was initially able to restore output further damage to the plant's electricity supply has halted all production.

"Emergency measures are being taken," Metinvest said in a statement, emphasising the need to recharge the plant's battery storage within 24 hours.

On Monday production was slashed at two of Metinvest's steel plants near the east Ukrainian town of Mariupol, because supply routes for raw materials had been disrupted as Ukrainian forces pressed their military campaign against the separatists.

When working at full capacity the Avdiivka plant produces 7,200 tonnes of coke per day. (Reporting by Andrey Kuzmin; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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