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UC Rusal chief says not worried about falling metals prices

UC Rusal chief Oleg Deripaska said Thursday he was not worried about a drop in aluminium prices in recent months, adding that the Russian metals giant could “withstand any storm”.

Deripaska said the world’s biggest aluminium company has no plans to cut capacity this year with emerging economies including China and Brazil planning to “spend more to build up their infrastructure and use more base metals.”

“We can withstand any storm — but we don’t believe there will be any storm,” he told a press briefing in Hong Kong.

He was speaking after announcing a 1.5 million US dollar joint project with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to develop environmentally friendly construction materials.

Aluminium prices soared to almost 2,500 US dollars a tonne in April, but have since dropped to below 2,000 dollars on concerns that the European debt crisis will hurt the global recovery, shrinking demand for base metals.

Rusal swung back into the black with a net profit of 247 million US dollars in the first quarter, reversing a 638 million US dollar loss in 2009 after what it said was “one of the toughest years” on record for the aluminium industry.

In January, Rusal became the first Russian company to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with a 2.2 billion US dollar initial public offering.

On Wednesday, Russia’s antitrust body opened an investigation into five Rusal units for allegedly manipulating the wholesale power market, stepping up efforts to curb price fixing, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

But the company dismissed the probe as groundless, saying it was “acting in accordance with the law”.