UPDATE 2-Noranda delays smelter ramp-up due to aluminum price rout

Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:56pm EDT
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NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - Noranda Aluminum Holding Co has delayed efforts to ramp up production at its New Madrid, Missouri, smelter due to a sharp decline in aluminum prices, President and CEO Kip Smith said on Wednesday, as the company's quarterly losses widened.

The company had previously expected the 253,000 tonne-per-year smelter to reach full capacity by the third quarter.

It is currently operating at about 85 percent of capacity, down from 90 percent in May, Smith said on a conference call to discuss the company's second-quarter earnings.

"The economics of ramping up production changed," Smith said, noting that the company would focus on achieving "operating stability" and "prudently" increasing production at the smelter through the fourth quarter of 2015.

The company announced a loss of 25 cents a share for the second quarter, compared with an eight-cent loss in the same period of 2014.

Smith said "reliability issues" at the smelter during the second quarter limited its production and cost the company 8 cents per pound. He has previously blamed higher-than-expected pot line outages for the slower ramp-up.

The caution in bringing on new capacity is the latest sign of the pain felt across the global industry as prices on the London Metal Exchange remain below cost of production for a big portion of the world's smelters.

Alcoa Inc and Rusal have both cut output in recent years.   Continued...