* Rusal says no decision on possible 200,000 T capacity cut
* Says in talks with Western, Russian banks over loans
* Shares fall 2.5 percent in Hong Kong (Adds details, quotes, context)
MOSCOW, March 9 (Reuters) - Russia’s Rusal Plc plans to start its new Boguchansk aluminium smelter in the first half of 2016, the company said on Wednesday, after reporting a 53 percent slide in its fourth-quarter core profit.
Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer, has been hit by weak metal prices and the start of its Boguchansk smelter in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk region has been repeatedly postponed.
“Everything is ready from the technical point of view, and the first stage is running in a test mode,” said Oleg Mukhamedshin, deputy chief executive. The smelter’s first stage has a capacity of 147,000 tonnes of aluminium per year.
The company will announce the start of the smelter’s production as soon as it receives approval from Russian authorities, he told reporters.
Rusal, controlled by Oleg Deripaska and part-owned by Glencore, is also still considering a plan to reduce the company’s total output capacity by 200,000 tonnes, excluding the new Boguchansk smelter, Mukhamedshin added.
Rusal also said it expected global aluminium demand to rise 5.7 percent in 2016 to 59.6 million tonnes as Chinese appetite for the metal expands 7 percent to 31 million tonnes.
Its fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 27 percent quarter-on-quarter to $306 million, slightly missing an analysts’ forecast of $312 million.
Rusal has been supported by the weak rouble and dividends from Norilsk Nickel, in which it has stake, but these factors have not fully offset a lower aluminium price.
Its full-year EBITDA totalled $2.0 billion. Sberbank CIB said in a note, with a rouble rate of 73 per dollar and all-in aluminium prices of $1,700 per tonne, it could generate EBITDA of around $1.4-1.5 billion in 2016.
Rusal’s shares fell 2.5 percent in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
The company also said that its year-end net debt rose 6 percent from the end of September to $8.4 billion, and that it was in talks with Russian and Western banks to raise loans. Talks with the latter are expected to be completed by end-March.
These loans, if secured, will be used to finance some of Rusal’s debt repayments due in 2016, Mukhamedshin said. Rusal should repay $1 billion of its debt in total in 2016. (Reporting by Sonali Paul and Polina Devitt; additional reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; editing by Joseph Radford and David Evans)