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Cement plant in northwest Russia to resume production Thursday

ST. PETERSBURG, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - A cement plant at the center of protests over wage arrears in northwest Russia's town of Pikalyovo will resume operations early on Thursday, a BaselCement spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Pikalyovo last week after some 300 residents blocked a major highway to draw attention to their financial difficulties caused by the closure of three large plants in the town.

"The first production line will be launched tonight," Svetlana Andreyeva said.

The problems for Pikalyovo, some 200 kilometers from St. Petersburg, began last year when the Pikalyovo Alumina Plant, now called BasEl Cement Pikalyovo and controlled by a subsidiary of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element group, closed after the price of alumina crashed.

The closure led to the shutting down of two other cement plants, Metakhim and Pikalyovo Cement, after BasEl Cement stopped raw material deliveries to the companies, who were also affected by the global downturn and a fall in demand for cement.

The Russian Industry and Trade Ministry said on Tuesday PhosAgro, a supplier of nepheline concentrate to the Pikalyovo plant, Metakhim, Eurocement Group and BaselCement had agreed to resume production at Pikalyovo on Saturday.

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