Column: Australian alumina ban will squeeze Rusal and aluminium – by Andy Home (Reuters – March 21, 2022)

LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) – Australia’s decision to ban exports of alumina to Russia tightens further the raw materials squeeze on Russian aluminium giant Rusal. The company’s four million tonnes of smelter capacity each year processes eight million tonnes of alumina, which sits between bauxite and refined metal in the aluminium production chain.

Rusal’s domestic alumina plants accounted for only 37% of its smelter needs last year. The balance was imported. The top two suppliers were Ukraine, where Russia’s invasion has closed Rusal’s Nikolaev refinery, and Australia.

The company said it is “currently evaluating” the loss of its number two raw material supplier but the market has already reacted to the potential resulting loss of Russian metal. London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month aluminium jumped more than 5% at its opening to $3,554 per tonne on Monday morning and was last trading around $3,545.


Rusal has so far escaped direct Western sanctions thanks to the deal that was done to lift U.S. sanctions in 2019. Rusal’s oligarch owner Oleg Deripaska remained blacklisted but Rusal was excluded after he reduced his controlling stake in the EN+ holding company.

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