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Sunday, 04 August 2013 10:38

Nigeria: Russian Firm Dismantling Alscon

By Nse Anthony-Uko

ABUJA, Nigeria, August 04, 2013 (Leadership) - Workers of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) have accused its Russian managers, UC RUSAL, of plotting to cripple operations in the factory by dismantling equipment in the production lines and "siphoning of raw materials".


The workers, who were represented by their trade union leaders, warned that if the federal government failed to wade into the matter, the vandalism of ALSCON's main production plant by RUSAL will be crippled in the factory.


Led by the leaders of the company's chapter of the Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN), the workers alleged that the Russian managers of ALSCON have dismantled stem rods and anodes used in the manufacture of steel ingots. They also claimed that since the beginning of the year, RUSAL had dismantled parts of the plant and sold off machinery and raw materials.


In a document they made available to LEADERSDHIP Sunday, backed with pictures, the employees claimed that RUSAL had been cutting the massive rods and stems which carry the baked anodes to the pot room for the smelting of aluminium.


According to them, the Russian managers have also resolved to sell the unused Bussbar/Riser, which transmits electric currents to the pots for aluminium smelting.

The document revealed RUSAL has established four anode stem-destroying stations and planning to destroy 4,200 anode stems before the end of August.


It disclosed that the anode stems which were installed by Reynolds, the original builders of the plant, are used for the production of ingots. The aluminium stems are to be melted into ingot for sale while the stem nipples are to be sold to contractors who are already on ground.


"By the systematic destruction of these anode stems, the Russians want to ensure that no aluminium ingots is ever produced again in ALSCON because they stopped production about three months ago," the union stated.


When LEADERSHIP Sunday contacted the firm, an official admitted the plant had been dismantled, saying that ALSCON was cleaning its premises of unrealisable assets.


Also, ALSCON's director of public relations, Ms Tatyana Smirnova, said: "The information that you have is misleading and does not correspond to reality. At present, ALSCON is cleaning its territory from unrealisable assets, obsolete and not suitable for use, equipment which cannot be utilised for production of aluminium. In addition, I would like to emphasise that the equipment is the property of RUSAL and makes a part of modernisation programme that was implemented from 2007 till 2012. RUSAL has injected about $159.4million of its resources into the plant."


The workers added that the management's plan is to melt the Bussbar/Riser and sell it as ingots while the stem rods and anodes will be sold in their dismantled states.


Already, there are Chinese buyers waiting to take these items off the hands of RUSAL and there are indications that the management wants to sell the items between tomorrow Monday and Wednesday. According to the union member, the Bussbar/Riser has never been used and is situated in a complex still under construction for the production of aluminium.


There are 4,200 stem rods and anodes, each valued at $100,000, totalling $420 million (N67.2 billion), while the Bussbar is valued at about N1billion. Also planned to be sold this week are about 20 company cars.


The union said it has reported the matter to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). Officials of the BPE who visited Ikot Abasi on Sunday, July 21 and Monday, July 22, 2013, to inspect ALSCON's plant also saw the systematic destruction of the factory, they said.


But BPE denied the union's claims, declaring that its officials did not visit the plant in July. According to its head, public communications, Mr Chigbo Anichebe, the BPE heard the same rumours a few months ago and, after investigations, discovered that there was no truth in it.


Anichebe said: "When the matter first came up, security agencies investigated the claims, and the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) set up a joint team comprising the BPE, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and officials of the Ministry of Mines and Steel to go to the plant and verify the information.


Members of that team came back with a report that no such act was taking place in the plant. The claim was found to be spurious. Anyone can just take pictures from anywhere and claim it is ALSCON. However, if the source of this new information is reliable, the BPE will investigate again." (This story was originally published by the Leadership in Abuja, Nigeria.)


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