(Bloomberg) — Europe has lost about half of its zinc and aluminum smelting capacity within the past year, and a further surge in power prices could knock more plants offline over winter, the region’s biggest metal producers warned.
Eurometaux, which represents miners, smelters and fabricators employing 500,000 people in Europe, is underscoring the risks that lie ahead for the industry as the European Union urges member states to cut gas usage to avert a drastic escalation of the region’s energy crunch over the winter months.
The EU’s plan to cut gas usage by 15% will involve walking a tightrope between preserving energy supplies for residential users while mitigating the risk of lasting damage to vital industrial infrastructure. The aluminum and zinc industries aren’t major direct users of gas, but the vast amounts of power that smelters consume has left them at the sharp end of Europe’s crisis.
“Today’s EU gas demand reduction plan makes clear that politicians must make near impossible choices for safeguarding their citizens and industries this winter,” Eurometaux’s director general, Guy Thiran, said in an emailed statement.
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