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Russian giant Rusal booted out of Gladstone alumina refinery

Business

Russian aluminium giant Rusal has been forced out of Gladstone’s alumina refinery owned by Rio Tinto.

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Rusal had a 20 per cent stake in Queensland Alumina but has been pushed out at least temporarily by Australia’s sanctions on Russia.

Rio said it had taken 100 per cent control of the capacity and governance of QAL until further notice.

It’s unlikely that any compensation was paid due to the decision, which was initiated after Prime Minister Scott Morrison banned aluminium exports to Russia last month following its invasion of Ukraine.

The move adds another political complication to the trade of Queensland’s commodities following China’s bans on Australia’s coal, beef, cotton and timber.

It’s likely that Rusal will return to QAL after the sanctions are lifted.

QAL operates as toll treatment project in which Rio and Rusal had received product rather than a profit or dividends.

The QAL joint venture figured out a way to deal with the complication in 2018 when Rusal was the subject of US sanctions, which involved a formula that meant the refinery was not impacted by sanctions.

“As a result of the Australian Government’s sanction measures, Rio Tinto has taken on 100 per cent of the capacity and governance of Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) until further notice. QAL is 80 per cent owned by Rio Tinto and 20 per cent owned by Rusal,” Rio said in a statement.

Our focus remains on ensuring the continued safe operation of QAL, as a significant employer and contributor to the local Gladstone and Queensland economies.”

Aluminium prices have surged since the invasion and hit a record on the London Metal Exchange recently.

Russia produces about 6 per cent of the world’s aluminium and Rusal has previously stopped shipments from its Nikoloev refinery in Ukraine.

 

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