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Russian Rusal's 2018 aluminum output up 1%, sales volume down 7%

Tokyo — Russian aluminum producer Rusal said Friday its aluminum production in 2018 rose 1.3% from a year ago to 3.8 million tons, while sales volume fell 7.2% to 3.7 million tons. Value added products, or VAP, accounted for 45% of the total sales.

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Rusal said that in 2018, the average aluminum realized price was $2,259/mt, about 7.3% higher than the previous year at $2,105/mt.

In the fourth quarter last year however aluminum prices, along with other metals on the London Metal Exchange, fell due to investor sell-off amid US-China trade tensions, it said.

The company, however, maintained that the aluminum market was in deficit and the price has upside potential, citing the decrease in LME stocks, and the fall in the Chinese aluminum production in 2018.

"Around 50% of aluminum production facilities outside of China and 60% are making losses," it said.

Rusal's production in Q4 was 943,000 mt, up 0.4% from the previous quarter.

Plant utilization rate at its ten smelting plants was stable at 96% in the second half of the year.

Rusal reported a drop in sales of 16.2% to 877,000 mt, due to a 32.4% decline in VAP which was affected by the US sanctions.

"VAP sales in the fourth quarter were significantly challenged by short [US] Office of Foreign Assets Control General License extensions," it said.

Rusal's 2018 alumina production was 7.8 million tons, flat from 2017.

"In June, Rusal restarted operation of the Friguia refinery in Guinea. As a result, despite weather affecting the Windalco capacities performance, overall production remained similar to 2017," it said.

-- Mayumi Watanabe, mayumi.watanabe@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Elizabeth Thang, newsdesk@spglobal.com