Trump's Cold War hits Queensland Alumina
PRESIDENT Donald Trump's Cold War has come to Queensland after Rio Tinto announced it was suspending contracts with its partner, Rusal, at Queensland Alumina, in Gladstone.
Rusal is a owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and has a 20 per cent stake in QAL, but is now subject to sanctions imposed by the US Treasury.
The sanctions are a retaliation by Washington for Russia's apparent meddling in the US elections in 2016.
The company used the "force majeure'' clause in its contract which allows it to suspend certain actions because of unforeseeable circumstances. The clause is used in Australia when events like flooding or cyclones prevent the shipping of commodities such as coal.
Rio said over the weekend that since the announcement of sanctions by the US Treasury it had reviewed arrangements it has with impacted entities.
"The arrangements include Rusal's 20 per cent interest in Queensland Alumina Limited in Australia, Rusal's associated supply and offtake arrangements, bauxite sales to Rusal's refinery in Ireland and offtake contracts for alumina that are used at Rio Tinto's smelters, mainly in France and Iceland.
"As a result of the imposition of these sanctions, Rio Tinto is in the process of declaring force majeure on certain contracts and is working with its customers to minimise any disruption in supplies.
"Rio Tinto is committed to fully complying with the US sanctions.''
Rio's chief executive of aluminium Alf Barrios said the company was reviewing in detail all our trading relationships with Rusal and other counterparties and we will obviously do what we have to do to ensure that we comply with applicable sanctions.
He said Rio had received calls from customers wanting to ensure a secure supply of aluminium in the future. Rio would continue to work with them to support them.
A Rio spokesman said the company was continuing to work through the implications of the sanctions. However, at this point it does not expect significant impact on the QAL operations.
Glencore has made similar moves in its dealings with Rusal.