SYDNEY, May 24 -- Production at Nyrstar's (NYR.BR: Quote) 265,000-tonnes-per-year Hobart zinc refinery in Australia has been cut by 20 percent indefinitely due to an electrical fire, the company said on Friday.
The blaze broke out late on Thursday night and took about three hours to extinguish, a spokeswoman for Dutch-based Nyrstar said from the site on Tasmania island off the east coast of Australia.
The damage to electrical equipment was still being assessed, she said.
The disruption reduces daily zinc output from the plant by roughly 145 tonnes to 580 tonnes, based on the company's projected 2010 production forecast of 265,000 tonnes.
"The damage assessment is underway and will take some time. At this point we estimate production loss to be approximately 20 percent," she said. "We do not expect that the production loss will have any impact on our customers in the immediate future." The refinery sources most of its metal the Century Rosebery mines in Australia owned by China's Minmetals CHMIN.UL. Metals traders said the disruption was unlikely to offer much support for world zinc prices, in a free-fall since mid-April due to a supply glut and weak demand. LME zinc stocks rose by 2,150 tonnes on Friday to 567,025 tonnes, representing about 5 percent of annual world production.
Three-month London Metal Exchange-traded zinc MZN3 fell as low as $1,830 a tonne on Friday, it's lowest price in eight months, Reuters data shows.
At 0857 GMT the three-month zinc contract was quoted at $1,866 a tonne.
The Nyrstar spokeswoman said 37 employees were evacuated when the fire erupted but all had returned to work within four hours.