(Adds comment from plaintiffs’ lawyer, details from decision)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge said on Monday two units of Anglo-Swiss mining company Glencore Plc must face a private antitrust lawsuit accusing them of trying to monopolize the market for special high grade zinc, driving up its price.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said zinc purchasers alleged “a plausible story of market control” by the Glencore units, Glencore Ltd and Pacorini Metals USA Inc, that violated the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law.
In a 62-page decision, the judge also dismissed the purchasers’ claim that Glencore’s 2010 purchase of Pacorini was an illegal merger because its effect was to reduce competition.
Forrest had in January dismissed an earlier version of the proposed class-action lawsuit, which also named Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co as defendants. She said at the time that the plaintiffs could replead some claims against the Glencore units.
The lawsuit is among several in Manhattan in which investors and businesses accused banks and other defendants of conspiring to rig prices in financial and commodities markets.
Glencore Plc declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Glencore Ltd. A lawyer for Pacorini did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Christopher Lovell, a lawyer for the purchasers, said his clients were gratified by the decision and looked forward to pursuing their case.
Zinc purchasers accused the Glencore units of having conspired since September 2010 to ensure long queues for the metal at warehouses licensed by the London Metal Exchange.
They said this enabled the defendants to receive increased storage fees and command increased premiums when selling zinc they owned, as part of a plan to artificially inflate prices.
Zinc is used to coat steel to protect against corrosion and is also used in batteries, castings and alloys such as brass.
It is according to the U.S. Geological Survey the world's fourth most widely produced metal by weight, trailing iron, aluminum and copper. on.doi.gov/1UCOMNy
The case is In re: Zinc Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-03728. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Richard Chang)