June 10, 2020 / 1:51 PM / a month ago

Rail damage halts supply to Russia's top alumina plant

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rusal, the largest aluminium producer outside China, is negotiating alternative routes for the raw materials it needs for its Siberian Achinsk alumina plant, after damaged rail infrastructure interrupted supplies, it said on Wednesday.

The company said it was in talks with Russian Railways to quickly organise alternative routes to the plant, the largest in Russia, which supplies the Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter.

“As of today, the supply of raw materials to the (Achinsk) plant has completely stopped,” it said in a statement adding stockpiles were close to a “critical minimum”.

The stockpiles at the plant are enough for 5 to 7 days, Russian Railways, the state-owned railway monopoly, said in a separate statement.

Russian Railways organised the first supply to the plant via an alternative route on Tuesday, although it is unclear how long that will take to arrive. The rail company said it was in close contact with Rusal on the full resumption of supplies.

A section of the railway used by the plant was damaged by heavy rains on June 7, Rusal said. Russian Railways said the area received half a typical month’s rainfall in 24 hours.

The aluminium industry relies on long and often complicated supply chains because aluminium is produced from alumina, which in turn requires bauxite and other raw materials.

Rusal has been hit by lower demand for aluminium during the coronavirus pandemic, but aluminium smelters require a stable supply of materials because production is hard to bring back online after stoppages.

Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova and Polina Devitt; writing by Alexander Marrow and Polina Devitt; editing by Barbara Lewis and David Goodman

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