IN THE FIRING LINE: An aerial View of Queensland Alumina Limited.
IN THE FIRING LINE: An aerial View of Queensland Alumina Limited. Brenda Strong GLA040712VIEW

QAL could be caught in firing line over Russia sanctions

NEW sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States Government could potentially affect operations at Queensland Alumina Limited.

Twenty per cent of QAL is owned by Russian firm Rusal, which is in turn controlled by billionaire oligarch and Vlamidir Putin ally, Oleg Deripaska.

Rusal now appears on the United States Treasury's "Specially Designated Nationals" list, which freezes the company's American assets and bans United States citizens from doing business with the company.

The sanctions, imposed in response to what the United States called "malign activity around the globe", caused shares in Rusal to almost halve in value on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios told The Australian it was too early to say whether QAL could potentially be affected by the new sanctions.

The remaining 80 per cent of QAL is owned by Rio Tinto.

"We are reviewing our contract relationships with companies that might be affected by the US sanctions, including Rusal," Mr Barrios said.


QAL has been working to fix the problem with dust.
Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
RUSSIA TIES: Twenty per cent of QAL is owned by Russian aluminium firm Rusal. Mike Richards

"We are going through a thorough review and we will have to complete that work to understand the next steps we will take... it is too early to comment on the potential implications (the sanctions) may have (on QAL)."

A Rio Tinto spokesman last week told The Observer there was "no suggestion of job impacts" at any of Rio's Gladstone facilities as a result of a potential trade war between the United States and China.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she "absolutely" expected the Trump Administration to keep its commitment to exempt Australia from steel and aluminium tariffs.