April 22, 2015 / 2:51 AM / 5 years ago

Rusal says may idle 200,000 tons of aluminum capacity

An employee operates an auto-loader to store aluminium ingots at the foundry shop of the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk July 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Top global aluminum producer United Company Rusal said on Wednesday it was reviewing its aluminum smelting operations and may idle a further 200,000 tonnes of capacity.

Rusal, which has cut capacity by 800,000 tons in the past two years, said its first quarter aluminum production came in at 900,000 tons, down two percent on the previous quarter, but up two percent on a year ago.

The Hong Kong-listed company said it expected calendar 2015 production to be flat on the previous year.

Deputy CEO Oleg Mukhamedshin said in March that Rusal was considering shuttering some production due to the weak price outlook and a desire to shift production to cleaner energy sources. The company is looking to have almost all of its production using electricity from hydroelectric power plants.

The review follows weak global aluminum prices and a halving in premiums this year in parts of Asia as China has stepped up exports of semi-manufactured products and logjams at London Metal Exchange warehouses have unwound. Premiums are a delivery surcharge paid to obtain metal.

Alcoa said in March it was reviewing 14 percent of its smelting capacity for closure, curtailment or sale.

Rusal also said on Wednesday it would not be restarting any capacity idled in 2013. It has cut capacity in the past two years by shutting down smelters that used electricity from coal-fired power plants and other fuels, it said last month.

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin

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