ECONOMY

Bosnian smelter surges

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia’s sole aluminium smelter Aluminij Mostar produced more than 10,000 tons of metal in August – the highest figure since it was established in 1981, the company said yesterday. «With this result, we exceeded our target plan for August,» the company said in a statement. Aluminij’s output target for 2004 is 114,000 tons of metal but the company said it hoped that this figure too would be exceeded and represent a new production record for the smelter, based in the southern town of Mostar. The company produced 110,700 tons of metal in 2003 and recorded exports of $170 million, which accounted for a fifth of total exports in the Muslim-Croat federation. Aluminij’s General Manager Mijo Brajkovic has said that he expected exports of $180 million this year. Brajkovic told the Croatian business daily Dnevnik in an interview this week that the company was preparing to expand its production range and start producing aluminium wires, alongside aluminium ingots, T-bars, slabs and billets. A feasibility study for a new smelter, which would enable a total output of 230,000 tons of metal, has been approved but the project was put on hold until a long-term contract on power supply was secured, Brajkovic said. Aluminij’s privatization has been stalled over an ownership row with the federation government, which disputed as illegal its postwar distribution of 64 percent of shares to its mainly Bosnian-Croat work force in compensation for unpaid wages. Aluminij also sold an additional 12 percent stake to Croatian firm TLM in 1997. The government says it should have a bigger stake in the company. Swiss metals trader Glencore said it was interested in Aluminij’s privatization but only after the dispute with the government had been resolved.