Governor Says RusAl May Close Smelter

United Company RusAl may close its Novokuznetsk plant and build a new smelter complex should it fail to meet targets to cut pollution, Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev said.

RusAl will consider building a 300,000-ton smelter if it is not able to complete its 2 billion ruble ($85 million) program to clean up the area as early as 2010, Tuleyev said on his web site after discussing the matter Wednesday with chief executive Alexander Bulygin.

Company spokeswoman Vera Kurochkina was not immediately available for comment. A RusAl official in Moscow, who declined to be identified due to company rules, said the possibility of a new smelter was in an early stage of discussion.

RusAl ended so-called open-hearth output last year at the Novokuznetsk Aluminum Plant, which began operating in 1943, cutting emissions in half, the Kemerovo regional web site said.