UPDATE 1-Nyrstar suspends Port Pirie lead smelter, declares force majeure

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LONDON/MELBOURNE, June 7 (Reuters) - Nyrstar has halted production at its Port Pirie lead and zinc smelter in Australia and declared force majeure, the Belgian-headquartered metals and mining company said on Thursday.

It stopped output at Port Pirie on May 28 due to an unplanned outage at the blast furnace, a spokesman said in an email.

“We are currently in the process of assessing the outage and expect that production should resume within the coming days. There will be a negative impact to Nyrstar’s lead metal production due to the outage,” he added.

Prices of lead on the LME rallied by 3 percent, to the highest in a month on Thursday before holding steady on Friday in holiday-thinned Asian trade. Near-dated LME contracts traded at two-year highs earlier this week.

Port Pirie produced 160,000 tonnes of lead metal last year, down 7 percent from the previous year.

Nyrstar has been having some teething problems as it ramps up production at the plant.

Firefighters attended the smelter on June 5 after smoke plumes were seen at the plant. The issue was a burst water pipe that was quickly isolated and resolved, a spokesman for South Australia’s emergency services said.

Reporting by Eric Onstad and Melanie Burton, editing by Jane Merriman and Richard Pullin