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Russia's Rusal loses suit against Rio Tinto over alumina refinery, can appeal

2nd February 2024

By: Reuters

  

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Russian aluminium producer Rusal has lost a lawsuit against global miner Rio Tinto that sought to win back access to its 20% share of the alumina produced at a jointly owned refiner in Queensland, a Australian Federal Court filing showed on Friday.

Australia responded to Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine with wide-ranging sanctions, including a ban on exports to the country of alumina, which is used to make aluminium.

Shortly after the ban was imposed in March 2022, Rio Tinto took sole control of Queensland Alumina Ltd (QAL), sidelining Rusal and cutting its access to the refinery's output. Rio owns 80% of the refinery and Rusal the remaining 20%.

"Rusal is disappointed in the outcome and is considering the court's decision," the company said in an emailed comment, adding it had 28 days to file an appeal if it decides to do so.

"It is necessary to emphasize that this decision does not deprive Rusal of the share ownership in the asset. It also does not affect the current Rusal's operations worldwide," it added.

In the suit, Rusal's Australian unit Alumina and Bauxite Company (ABC) was seeking to restore its rights at QAL.

Australia's alumina export ban and suspended operations of a refinery in Ukraine prompted Rusal to seek more alumina in China and other countries to ensure adequate supply to its Siberian aluminium smelters in 2022.

In 2023, it bought a 30% stake in a Chinese alumina refinery to support the feed coming from its alumina assets in Russia, Ireland, Jamaica and Guinea.

Rio did not immediately reply to a Reuters' request for comment.

Edited by Reuters

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