Tajikistan: Aluminum Giant Suffers Output Slump

Tajik Aluminum Company, by far Tajikistan’s largest industrial concern, has said it reduced output by 23 percent over the first 10 months of 2017, compared to the same period last year.

The company, better known by its acronym TALCO, said that aluminum production over that period reached 85,600 tons. Asia-Plus newspaper reported on November 6 that the value of the primary aluminum manufactured is worth around 330 million somoni ($37.5 million).

Aluminum production in Tajikistan has been dropping markedly since October 2016, when the Nurek hydroelectric plant, which provides most of the country’s power needs, stopped working following a technical fault. 

On the day of the blackout, dozens of TALCO’s 300 or so operating electrolysis baths, which constitute a key stage of the alumina smelting process, were knocked offline. Some media reported that the real amount of equipment damaged may have been even greater. A single electrolysis bath consumes roughly enough electricity to supply an area of around 10,000 people, one former TALCO insider has told EurasiaNet.org.

TALCO’s misfortune has benefitted the broader population in at least one way, however, as the company’s reduced power requirements means that the traditional winter electricity rationing regime is not expected to be enacted this year.

TALCO spokesman Igor Sattarov has said though that the company is in a position to activate 98 additional electrolysis baths, but that they are holding off until February in the interests of economizing on electricity consumption.

In November, TALCO announced that it is teaming up with China’s Yunnan Company to invest $1.6 billion on building yet another aluminum smelter in Tajikistan. Sattarov has said the new plant, which is expected to produce around 500,000 tons of the metal every year, will create 1,100 high-paid jobs. TALCO says it also intends modern its existing plant to reach annual output capacity of 517,000 tons.