For the first quarter of 2002, Pechiney recently announced earnings from operations of EUR 104 million, stable compared with the fourth quarter of 2001 and down 37% from the first quarter of 2001. At the end of the first quarter of 2002, cumulative gains from the Pechiney Continuous Improvement System represented EUR 39 million, in line with a three-year objective of EUR 450 million. Earnings from operations swung back to a profit, in spite of continued difficult market conditions. The first signs of recovery appeared in the United States at the end of the quarter. Pechiney also recently reached an agreement with Eskom of South Africa in respect to an energy supply contract, a major step forward in the first aluminum smelter project using AP50 technology, which is expected to come on stream in 2005.
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