Venezuelan state-run aluminum makers face crisis early in 2013
Venalum and Alcasa's aluminum output tumbled 43.2% and 20%, respectively
A new year has begun for Venezuela's aluminum makers, yet the future is bleak, particularly after having faced fierce labor protests and an output decline due to shortages in raw materials and spare parts throughout 2012.
Trade union leaders keep on begging for further investments and subsidies for the industries, which lack financial capacity to meet fixed costs. Based on administrative reports issued by some state-owned companies, better conditions are expected in 2013 regardless of far-reaching production goals.
Production of aluminum maker Venalum in 2012 reported the most serious setback, with output at 147,832 tons of primary aluminum, 43.2% below the figure recorded in 2011 (260,720 tons).
Labor conflicts in May and shortages in spare parts resulted in the shutdown of nearly 300 cells out of 412 last year. Only 267 cells out of 905 are currently operational.
In 2013, the company expects to incorporate 200 cells by the fist half and seven state-of-the art projects will be implemented.
For its part, Alcasa's aluminum output in 2012 plummeted 20.3% to 55,195 tons, compared to 69,300 tons in 2011.
Translated by Jhean Cabrera
The news marked an ominous beginning, health-wise, of the year 2015: the Cardiovascular Surgery Unit at Hospital Clínico Universitario, one of the country's largest teaching hospitals, was to close completely on January 5 due to lack of medicines and surgical supplies. All patients who were waiting to be operated on were sent home. More than 10 patients waiting for surgery reportedly died there from lack of basic medical supplies in the two months prior to the closure.