(Adds source comments, background)
DUBAI, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Oman’s Sohar Aluminium said on Wednesday it gradually restarted production on Friday after an interruption in August, and was working to return to full production as soon as possible.
“Sohar Aluminium has confirmed it has re-energised the potline, and on Friday 15th September 2017 gradually began re-starting the pots and the production of aluminium,” Said Al Masoudi, chief executive officer, said in a statement.
“The company is still working closely with a team of industry experts to progressively return to full production levels as early as possible,” he said.
But the smelter may need four to six months to get back to full operation, an industry source told Reuters on Wednesday.
“About 130,000 to 150,000 tonnes of supply will likely be lost,” the source said.
Sohar said last month an “incident” interrupted operations on Aug. 4, without giving more details.
Rio Tinto , which owns a stake in Sohar through its Canadian aluminium-producing unit Alcan, is trying to meet Asian customer requirements by sourcing metal from other smelters it operates or asking customers to change delivery schedules, the source said.
Rio was not immediately available to comment.
The supply reduction comes amid prospects for tighter supplies from China as producers cut output over winter to clear pollution, sending LME aluminium to its highest in five years on Wednesday.
China has launched a campaign to curb choking smog in its northern regions, ordering a slew of output cuts by the steel and aluminium producers. Aluminium makers must cut capacity by more than 30 percent across 28 cities.
The $2.4 billion Sohar Aluminium joint venture is controlled by Oman Oil Co and Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC, which each hold 40 percent. Alcan owns 20 percent. (Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi and Aaron Sheldrick in TOKYO, and Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)
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