DUSHANBE, January 22, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- In 2010, Tajikistan produced 350,000 tons of aluminum, which is 2.7 percent, or 10,000 tons, fewer than in 2009.

In a report released at a news conference in Dushanbe, Minister of Energy and Industries Gul Sherali noted on January 21 that they plan to increase production of primary aluminum by 20,000 tons this year.

“Recovery work at the Tajik Aluminum Company (TALCO) is under way and on completion of the work, the smelter plans to increase aluminum production to 370,000,” the minister said.

In the meantime, representatives from TALCO say the production decline was caused by effects of the global financial crisis that resulted in the international aluminum prices decreasing.

In 2009, Tajikistan produced 360,000 tons of aluminum, which was 39,200 tons fewer than in 2008.

The international aluminum prices began to sharply fall in the fall of 2008.  The price of one ton of primary aluminum  fell from US$2,600 to US$1,500 in January 2005.

The international aluminum prices began to rise at the end of 2009 and they were continuing to rise during last year.  Current international price for one ton of primary aluminum is US$2,400.

The Tajik Aluminum Company (TALCO) that runs the Tajik aluminum smelter (TadAZ) is Tajikistan''s chief industrial asset.  The country has no native aluminum ore, so the raw material for the plant has to be imported.  Tajikistan imports the raw material through tolling arrangements.  Construction of the plant proper began in 1972, and the first pouring of aluminum took place on March 31, 1975.  On April 3, 2007, TadAZ was officially renamed to TALCO - Tajik Aluminum Company.

TALCO is one of the ten largest aluminum smelters in the world and provides up to 70% of the country’s foreign currency earnings, consuming 40% of the country’s electrical power.