By Polly Yam
HONG KONG, May 6 (Reuters) - Jiangxi Copper Company Ltd , China's top refined copper producer, has shut a 100,000-tonnes-a-year facility over the weekend due to a shortage of scrap and will bring forward maintenance at two facilities with combined capacity of near 450,000 tonnes a year, a senior executive of the company said.
The unplanned closures at Jiangxi Copper reflect mounting pressure on refined metal producers struggling with a copper scrap shortage to shut some of their capacity in coming months as weak metal prices have restricted supply of the raw material.
Yantai Penghui Copper Industry Co Ltd, partly owned by Jiangxi Copper's parent, and North Copper have already cut output due to the scrap shortage.
China is the world's top producer and consumer of refined copper and the biggest importer of metal scrap. About a third of the country's 6 million tonnes of refined metal production comes from copper scrap.
Global copper prices are down 8 percent this year, denting scrap values and prompting overseas suppliers to curb sales to China. Domestic suppliers are also holding back stocks.
'For now, we will shut the facility for 10 days. After that, we have not decided whether or not we will reopen it,' Wu Yuneng, vice president of Jiangxi Copper, told Reuters.
The 100,000-tonnes-a-year facility is in Qingyuan city in the southern province of Guangdong and uses scrap as raw material.
Wu had told Reuters in an interview two weeks ago that Jiangxi Copper could be forced to cut production because of scrap shortage and scrap suppliers were unwilling to sell when LME copper prices were below $7,500 a tonne.
Jiangxi Copper is also bringing forward maintenance at two facilities in its Guixi plant in the southern province of Jiangxi in a bid to reduce the firm's use of scrap further, Wu said.
A facility in Guixi that produces near 367,000 tonnes of copper a year would be shut between May 8 and May 29, Wu said, adding it would take another 10 days to resume normal production.
Another facility with a capacity of more than 80,000 tonnes of metal a year would be overhauled for 20 days in June. The firm had scheduled the maintenance at the two facilities in late 2013.
'Buying scrap now for refined metal production would make losses to producers. Prices of scrap now are higher than refined copper prices,' Wu said.
Jiangxi Copper in March set a production target of 1.12 million tonnes for 2013. Wu did not specify by how much the company's refined metal output will be reduced for the year.
The closures would not have a big impact on Jiangxi Copper's profits for 2013 because the bulk of the firm's profits came from production that uses its own copper concentrates, the executive added.
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman) Keywords: JIANGXICOPPER PRODUCTION/
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