August 18, 2014 / 5:38 PM / in 4 years

Ukrainian steelmaker Metinvest halts three more plants due to shell fire

* Coke plant also still shut

* Industrial output down 12 pct y/y in July

* Komsomolets Donbas coal mine shelled, work stopped Aug. 1

* Mine accounted for 8 pct of Ukraine’s coal output

KIEV, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Fighting in eastern Ukraine has forced Metinvest, the country’s largest steelmaker, to shut off all production at three more plants after artillery fire destroyed their power supply, the company said on Monday.

Production also remains halted at its main coke plant Avdiivka, which produces 40 percent of Ukraine’s coke, it said.

Ukraine was the world’s fifth-biggest steel exporter last year but many of the operations of the country’s producers have been disrupted this year by months of fighting between pro-Russian separatist rebels and government forces in the country’s east.

Metinvest, which last month had already stopped accepting new orders from buyers due to the crisis, said output has now been halted at plants including Yenakiieve Steel, a leading manufacturer of square billets and the Khartsyzsk pipe plant, one of Europe’s top producers of large-diameter pipe.

“Stopping such large metals businesses is a blow not only to the 15,000 workers and their families, but also to the whole Ukrainian economy,” the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private power and coal producer, said its Komsomolets Donbas mine, which accounts for 8 percent of the country’s annual coal output, had been shelled, although work at the mine had already been stopped on Aug 1.

“The mine is dangerously explosive,” DTEK said in a statement.

Months of fighting in Ukraine’s industrial heartland has destroyed infrastructure and disrupted supply networks, leading to a 12 percent year-on-year fall in industrial output in July.

Last week it emerged that around half of the 115 coal mines in Ukraine, Europe’s second-largest coal producer, had halted production entirely.

A long-term production outage at DTEK’s Komsomolets mine could pose a serious headache to the 1 million residents of Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city. The mine supplies coal to two power stations that provide 50 percent of the city’s heating. (Reporting by Alessandra Prentice and Svetlana Burmistrova; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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