MOSCOW, Mar. 26 -- A local Russian court has ruled in favour of suspending zinc production at Elektrotsink, a smelter supplying about 40 percent of Russia's zinc, pending an environmental clean-up, news agencies reported on Thursday.
Elektrotsink, the smaller of Russia's two zinc smelters, is located in the city of Vladikavkaz in the Caucasus mountains. It had planned to produce 90,000 tonnes of zinc in 2009, the same as in 2008, and has not given a forecast for this year's output.
Russian news agencies Ria-Novosti and Interfax reported that a court in North Ossetia, the Russian republic in which the smelter is located, ordered Elektrotsink to suspend production to tackle excessive pollution.
The court order follows a recommendation in November by the Natural Resources Ministry, which said the smelter's owner, Urals Mining and Metals Co (UMMC), should halt the plant until it can ensure no repeat of emissions that have blighted output.
Elektrotsink officials in Vladikavkaz could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for UMMC, reached after office hours, said the company had no immediate comment on the matter.
UMMC also owns Russia's largest zinc smelter, Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant (CHZNq.L: Quote) (CHZN.MM: Quote). It has pledged to restore output at Chelyabinsk to pre-crisis levels after production fell 20 percent year-on-year in 2009 to 119,900 tonnes .
Russia, among the world's leading producers of aluminium, nickel and steel, plays a smaller role in the global zinc market. It produced about 260,000 tonnes of the anti-corrosive metal in 2008, or about 3 percent of global output.
An analyst said in November that UMMC could compensate any loss of output at Electrotsink by increasing production at Chelyabinsk.