International Ferro Metals (IFM) (IFL.L: Quote) said on Wednesday its ferrochrome sales dropped in the first quarter and that ferrochrome prices do not yet justify a resumption of production beyond July.

First-quarter sales slumped to 10,484 tonnes from 56,905 tonnes in the year-earlier period, while production dropped to 1,168 tonnes from 52,422 tonnes after the company carried out a furnace maintenance and upgrade programme.

The company continues to experience very low ferrochrome demand but we have been able to effect sales, especially into the Chinese market after the quarter end, it said in a statement.

There are signs of a bottoming out of the down cycle but prices have not yet firmed to a level that would justify a resumption of production beyond July 2009, when the current programme of converting raw material inventory into ferrochrome is complete.

The company said it is continuing to reduce costs by cutting staff, fixed costs, and a 10 percent pay cut for management and board members.

(Reporting by Julie Crust; editing by John Bowker)

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