MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s largest steelmaker Metinvest said its Avdiivka coke plant had resumed working at full capacity after being hit by artillery fire and warned of the economic risks posed by the conflict in the country’s east.
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).
“I can say without exaggeration that the combat operations have threatened not only the Avdiivka coke plant but also the entire Ukrainian economy,” Avdiivka Chief Executive Musa Magomedov said in an online statement.
Avdiivka, which produces 40 percent of Ukraine’s coke - a key ingredient in steelmaking - was hit by shelling late on Monday, forcing it to halve output, as Ukrainian forces pressed their military campaign against the separatists.
Metinvest said coke production had returned to a normal level of around 7,200 tonnes per day, although the facility was still experiencing problems with water and electricity supply.
Magomedov warned that the plant and Avdiivka itself, a town of over 37,000 people, remain in significant danger.
“One random strike, one shell and the town of Avdiivka could disappear,” he said. “Unfortunately this is also true for many other communities near industrial facilities in the zone of the anti-terrorist operation.” (Reporting by Andrey Kuzmin; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by David Holmes)