Russia’s United Company RUSAL Plc, the world’s top aluminium producer, said on Friday it expects 2013 global aluminium demand will rise 6 percent, fuelled by investment in large-scale infrastructure projects in China.

RUSAL’s positive tone comes after a tough year for aluminium produers due to the global economic slowdown, although it cautioned the European debt crisis would continue to weigh on aluminium prices in the short term.

Hong Kong-listed RUSAL, controlled by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, said it was also optimistic thanks to growing demand in India and North America for the metal, used in products such as drink cans, aircraft and iPads.

“Although the pace of global recovery remains open to debate, there were clear signs towards the end of 2012 that key markets in China, other Asian countries and North America have begun to increase their aluminium consumption,” RUSAL said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

“These markets will remain at the forefront of aluminium demand during the year ahead, driven by the automotive sector and continued investment in large-scale infrastructure projects.”

Global primary aluminium consumption was expected to reach 50 million tonnes this year, the company said.

RUSAL expected China to remain the largest growing market in 2013, with growth of 9.5 percent, followed by India at 6 percent and North America at 5 percent.

The Russian company’s aluminium output rose 1 percent in 2012 to 4.17 million tonnes, while alumina production fell 8 percent to 7.48 million tonnes, it said.

About 1-1.5 million tonnes of global aluminium production was expected to be idled in 2013, it added.

For full statement clicks http://www.hkexnews.hk/listedco/listconews/sehk/2013/0208/LTN20130208031.pdf

RUSAL, which accounted for 9 percent of global aluminium and alumina production in 2011, markets and sells products primarily in Europe, Japan, South Korea, China, Southeast Asia and North American markets. (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Richard Pullin)