KRASNOYARSK, Russia, March 29 (Reuters) - Russian aluminum giant Rusal has launched new production at its Boguchansk aluminum smelter in Siberia on Friday, doubling its capacity to 298,000 tonnes a year.
The new line, part of a larger project, is being started two months after Rusal was removed from a U.S. sanctions list. The world's largest aluminum producer outside China is now seeking to restore sales contracts to pre-sanctions levels.
"This is a complex big project that has a difficult and very long history," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told a ceremony in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk.
"It is very important that the Boguchansk aluminum smelter - one of the flagships of the aluminum industry - is being launched today," he said.
The smelter, which first started in 2015, previously had capacity of 150,000 tonnes a year.
Rusal produces about 3.8 million tonnes of aluminum a year and plans to keep its output flat in 2019.
When the smelter project began 13 years ago, Rusal and its partner, Russian power company Rushydro, planned to raise Boguchansk's capacity to 600,000 tonnes a year, requiring $2.6 billion in investment.
The firms said on Friday they had invested a total of $1.6 billion to achieve capacity of 298,000 tonnes a year. (Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova Writing by Polina Devitt Editing by Edmund Blair)