French aluminium plant to hold current output pending energy relief

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PARIS, Jan 14 (Reuters) - France's main aluminium smelter is not planning to adjust output further after recent cuts as it waits for government relief measures on electricity prices to take effect, a spokesperson for the site said on Friday.

Aluminium Dunkerque has reduced output by 15% since last month, joining several other aluminium sites in Europe in lowering production in response to record electricity prices that have hurt margins for the energy-intensive industry. read more

No additional cuts were planned, but the smelter would not immediately start restarting idled capacity given that the government's measures are due to apply from April, the spokesperson said.

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France announced on Thursday a plan to force state-owned utility EDF (EDF.PA) to sell more cheap nuclear power to rivals to limit the rise in electricity prices. read more

Wary of rising living costs before elections this year, the government has stressed its goal as shielding households from energy prices.

However, it also facing the impact of power costs on strategic sites like Aluminium Dunkerque, with the risk of a knock-on effect on industries that use its aluminium like the automotive and aeronautic sectors, said Nicolas Goldberg of Colombus Consulting.

The government's plan was welcomed by UNIDEN, an association of major energy-consuming industries, which called for the authorities to make plans for next year in case energy prices stay high.

Aluminium Dunkerque, located near the northern French port of Dunkirk, is one of Europe's biggest aluminium production sites with annual capacity of about 285,000 tonnes.

Private equity firm American Industrial Partners (AIP) acquired the smelter last year following a debt default by a unit of previous owner GFG Alliance. read more

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Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Gwenaelle Barzic and Benjamin Mallet Editing by Paul Simao

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