Aughinish crisis: U.S. indicates it may ease off on Rusal sanctions

Virginia Carson
April 26, 2018

Aughinish and its hundreds of employees have been caught up in an economic storm since the United States imposed sanctions on Rusal, with Deripaska seen as having close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

He added that the Treasury was considering a request to lift the sanctions against the company, extend the period during which USA companies could keep trading with Rusal and clarified what dealings were permissible during that time. That's good to know for both strategic and tactical purposes.

Prices of aluminum have soared by more than 30 percent since the United States sanctions announcement.

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In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said Americans have until October 23 to wind down their business with Rusal and that the United States was not trying to harm those who depend on the company. Glencore Plc, the largest buyer of aluminum from Rusal, is restarting purchases from the Russian company, according to people familiar with the matter. Prices have given back roughly half the gains since sanctions were announced in early April. Processing transactions in any other currency is also proving hard, as banks and suppliers around the world distance themselves from Rusal, in fear of becoming a target for secondary sanctions. "Given the impact on our partners and allies, we are issuing a general license extending the maintenance and wind-down period while we consider Rusal's petition", he said.

The administration's official position is that the sanctions will still go into effect eventually, if Oleg Deripaska does not divest and relinquish control of the firm.

In other metals, zinc prices paced losses in London, with copper, lead, and tin also falling.

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Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone, told Reuters that Rusal now has a better chance to survive and that "the 5 million tons of Rusal production that a week ago was arguably radioactive, will no longer be so".

Rusal declined to comment on requests from global media, while Deripaska's spokeswoman wasn't immediately available. Trading on the HKSE was closed when the U.S. announcement was made.

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