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Armenian Chemical Plant Reopens After Two-Year Hiatus

Vanadzor is Armenia's third-largest city
Vanadzor is Armenia's third-largest city
YEREVAN -- Armenia's second-largest chemical plant is resuming production and rehiring hundreds of workers after nearly two years out of operation, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Vanadzor-Khimprom company, which is based in the northern town of Vanadzor, was hit hard by the global economic crisis.

In particular, a collapse of international prices of calcium carbide, a chemical compound used in steelmaking that was the company's main product.

Vanadzor-Khimprom's Soviet-era plant stopped manufacturing and placed 600 of its 830-strong workforce on indefinite leave in late 2008.

Vanadzor-Khimprom Executive Director Aleksandr Snegiryov said on August 16 that the company reactivated its carbide production unit late last month. He said it is also manufacturing construction materials and will soon produce mineral fertilizers that are widely used by Armenian farmers.

In June 2009, the company's management asked the Armenian government for $3 million in financial assistance as part of a $500 million anticrisis loan given to the country by Russia. However, their request was rejected by Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian during a visit to Vanadzor, his hometown.

Snegiryov said Vanadzor-Khimprom's Russian parent company, Roding Limited International, eventually supplied the funds needed for the plant's reopening.

He said most of the 600 workers who were placed on indefinite leave have been rehired, with their back-wages from 2009 paid.

Snegiryov said the company also owes the Vanadzor municipality 60 million drams ($165,000) in property and land taxes.