Anglo-Australian metals mining giant Rio Tinto Group has taken full control of the Queensland alumina refinery it shares with Russian aluminium titan UC Rusal, boxing out the embattled firm that is already suffering due to sanctions imposed upon Russian businesses in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to an emailed statement, Rio Tinto made its move as a response to said 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 until further notice.”
On paper, Rio Tinto owns 80 percent of Queensland Alumina, with UC Rusal possessing the other 20 percent. An unnamed source revealed to industry media that the move was done on the advice of legal counsel, which advised that the existing legal structure was inoperable due to the sanctions on Russia.
Though Rio Tinto gave no timetable for allowing Rusal back into leadership, the unnamed source assured that ownership would be returned to the status quo ante once sanctions against Russia are lifted.
“Our focus remains on ensuring the continued safe operation of QAL, as a significant employer and contributor to the local Gladstone and Queensland economies,” assured Rio Tinto in the emailed statement.
Although Rio Tinto has pledged to cut business ties with Russian businesses, evidence indicates that it continues to receive at least some shipments from Rusal-owned facilities. About two weeks ago Rio Tinto’s ISAL smelter in Iceland likely received a shipment of alumina ore from Rusal’s Aughinish alumina refinery in Scotland.
Rio Tinto also stated previously that it would cooperate with the Australian government’s dictates regarding its ban on bauxite exports to Russia.