December 4, 2019 / 6:37 PM / 6 days ago

Aurubis says accident hits Belgian copper plant but deliveries continue

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Aurubis AG, Europe’s biggest copper smelter, said on Wednesday that an accident at its plant in Olen in Belgium in November has disrupted copper production but that deliveries to customers are continuing normally.

A crane collapsed in one section of the Olen tank house holding liquids for copper production on Nov. 19, stopping production of copper cathodes, an Aurubis spokeswoman said.

The Olen plant produces about 340,000 tonnes of copper annually with products such as rod and specialty wire mainly for west European markets.

“We have been able to support the Olen plant from our smelters in Hamburg and Luenen in Germany so metal and product deliveries for customers have not been disrupted,” the spokeswoman said.

“According to the current status, the unaffected part of the tank house - where production had been stopped for precautionary reasons – is to resume work before the end of this year,” she added. “The affected part is to be put back into operation in the second quarter of 2020 at the latest.”

All other production areas in Olen are continuing as normal.

Cooperation with other Aurubis sites will ensure the supply of copper cathodes and blister - or partly purified - copper in order to minimize the impact on customers, the company added.

The Aurubis group produces just over one million tonnes of copper cathodes annually.

Reporting by Pratima Desai and Michael Hogan, editing by Kirsten Donovan

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