Alcoa And Rusal Engage In War Of Words Over Alleged Deposits Of Russian Aluminium In LME Warehouses

Alcoa And Rusal Engage In War Of Words Over Alleged Deposits Of Russian Aluminium In LME Warehouses

Embattled Russian aluminium titan UC Rusal fired back at critics late last week, denying allegations by Alcoa and others that it has been shipping thousands of metric tons of its primary aluminium to London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses in recent weeks.

Alluding to a statement made by Alcoa and reported earlier in the day by Reuters, Rusal condemned allegations made by the Pittsburgh firm without naming them as done “clearly for their own benefit.”

“As a company, we have recently stated categorically that there are no plans to deliver aluminium to the exchange, by virtue of a strong sales and order book moving in to 2023. This is clearly a matter for RUSAL and its customers and not within the purview of certain competitors to neither comment on nor try to influence. The data and evidence to support this has been provided directly to the LME in response to the recent discussion paper.”

Alcoa wrote three letters to the LME in September and October seeking an embargo on metals from Russia and asking for more disclosure on exactly how much Rusal aluminium is currently stored in LME warehouses. The firm said up to 250 thousand metric tons of LME’s warehouse stock could be from Rusal, and that the LME could clarify the situation by publishing daily updates on the amount of Russian aluminium there is in LME warehouses.

“As we move into 2023 […] it is easy to see a scenario where well over one million metric tons per year of Rusal metal could be put on warrant. The LME aluminium contract will be distorted because it will disproportionately reflect the discounted value of the Rusal brand.”

Rusal said in its own press release that an examination of the evidence would exonerate the firm from Alcoa’s charges.

“In addition, we are confident that the data request made by a competitor to the LME regarding recent exchange deliveries would or will show that material of non-Russian origins dominated the inflow. Suggestions by competitors to the contrary are quite simply false, and damaging to market order.”

Alcoa has been one of the loudest voices to speak against continued trade with Rusal since Russian troops entered Ukraine in February. The Pittsburgh aluminium smelter has gone so far as to petition the Biden Administration to ban imports of Russian metal entirely, which sources suggest the administration is actively considering.