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Australian alumina ban to disrupt Rusal aluminium output-WoodMac

Randy Mancini 30 Mar 21
FILE PHOTO: Aluminium ingots stored at Rusal's Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter
FILE PHOTO: Aluminium ingots are seen stored at the foundry shop of the Rusal's Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/File Photo

March 21, 2022

LONDON (Reuters) – A ban by Australia on exports of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia will further disrupt supply chains and production at major aluminium producer Rusal, consultancy Wood Mackenzie said on Monday.

The Australian government announced the ban on Sunday as part of its ongoing sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, saying Russia relies on it for a fifth of alumina needs.

The ban will make it difficult for Rusal to maintain normal production of primary aluminium, senior WoodMac manager Uday Patel said in a statement.

EN+, Rusal’s majority shareholder, was not immediately available for comment.

“It is becoming increasingly likely that the only option for UC Rusal to source alumina will be via purchases through Chinese entities,” he said.

“One possible outcome could be Chinese buyers purchasing alumina and redirecting sales via Eastern Russian ports.”

Rusal has a 20% share in the Queensland Alumina Ltd refinery that has capacity of 3.95 million tonnes a year and therefore provides Rusal 790,000 tonnes a year, Patel said.

In addition, Rusal’s Nikolaev refinery in Ukraine which has a capacity of 1.75 million tonnes a year is out of commission because of the conflict, he added.

There are also supply chain issues at Rusal’s 2 million tonnes a year Aughinish refinery in Ireland, WoodMac said.

Rusal has been diverting bauxite cargoes from Guinea to its refinery in Ireland after the original destination in Ukraine shut down because of the Russian invasion, shipping data showed last week. https://reut.rs/368NN8t

(Reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by Barbara Lewis)