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Russians eye China to produce aluminum
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Russia's United Co Rusal, the world's leading aluminum producer, said it hopes to bank on China's push for sustainable development to further expand in the nation.


Rusal plans to increase its presence in China in "the near future" and is currently in negotiation on further partnerships of existing capacities, a spokesman said.


Rusal's only manufacturing operation in China is a 15,000 ton-a-year plant it acquired in Shanxi Province for cathode blocks, to supply its aluminum smelters in Russia. The Moscow-based company had announced it would double its Chinese cathode capacity.


Highest priority


The energy-intensive aluminum industry is one of the areas with highest environmental priority for Chinese government, which has set a goal to cut energy intensity by 20 percent and discharges of major pollutants by 10 percent over the five years to 2010.


China has raised the threshold in the aluminum sector to curb overcapacity and promote energy and resource conservation. It has announced plans to erase preferential power tariffs for the sector.


"This trend in the country's development is completely in line with the key principle of Rusal's operations in every region," the spokesman told Shanghai Daily.


He added that significant change in environmental impact cannot be achieved without sizable and continued investment in research and development.


China is the world's largest consumer of aluminum, used to make aircraft and beverage cans, and industry officials have said it may become a net importer of the lightweight metal from 2009. The fact only makes China's strategic goal to transfer the sector to a modern technological base more vital, the press official said.


Halt to growth


A slowdown in Chinese aluminum production growth due to shutdowns of small inefficient smelters and increasing energy costs could make opportunities brought by Rusal more luring, he added.


The historical reality is that Russia's aluminum industry, similar to China, had an extensive heritage of production facilities that required modernization.


(Shanghai Daily December 29, 2007)

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