Bratislava, August 17 (TASR) – The announced shutdown of primary aluminium production at the Slovalco plant in Ziar nad Hronom (Banska Bystrica region) is a disaster for Slovak industry as a whole, the Economy Ministry stated on Wednesday, adding that it will also have a noticeable impact on other European companies.
“I regret that despite the fact that we knew about this situation, we couldn’t find an agreement with the Finance Ministry to implement targeted assistance for such an energy-intensive company,” said Economy Minister Richard Sulik. The minister noted that Slovakia has an environmental fund for cases such as this one, which receives revenues from the sale of CO2 permits.
“[Slovalco] was asking for compensation from the state at the Finance Ministry for almost two years, but they apparently have other priorities than Slovak industry and its competitiveness,” remarked Sulik.
Slovalco is one of the most environmentally friendly and modern aluminium plants in the world and has been one of the largest employers in Banska Bystrica region. Its production capacity is up to 175,000 tonnes of primary aluminium, and the capacity of its foundry is approximately 250,000 tonnes. The shutdown of the furnaces will not only affect 300 company employees, but also approximately 2,500 other related jobs, according to the ministry.
The Economy Ministry pointed to the environmental burden, which will be far greater if primary aluminium is imported from China, not only in terms of transport but also because of less stringent environmental criteria than those in the European Union. “Meanwhile, the Economy Ministry has taken all steps within its powers to reduce energy charges,” added Sulik.
The Slovalco aluminium plant announced on Wednesday that it will definitely halt its production of primary aluminium by the end of September due to high electricity prices and insufficient compensation from the state.
Slovalco explained that due to high electricity prices for 2023, aluminium production would be economically unsustainable next year. Further problems have been caused by insufficient state compensation for energy-intensive industry, high prices of emission permits and low aluminium prices.