WORLD STAGE: An aerial view of Queensland Alumina Limited.
WORLD STAGE: An aerial view of Queensland Alumina Limited. Brenda Strong GLA040712VIEW

US Treasury eases sanctions on QAL part-owner

THE UNITED States Treasury Department has eased sanctions on Russian aluminium firm RUSAL, which owns 20 per cent of Queensland Alumina Limited.

The US Treasury on Monday issued General License No. 14, which gives RUSAL more time to comply with the sanctions by reauthorising US citizens to engage in specific transactions with the company up until October 23.

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said the extension had been granted "given the impact on our partners and allies" while the US government considered a petition from the company for it to be removed from list of sanctioned companies.

"RUSAL has felt the impact of US sanctions because of its entanglement with (billionaire Vladimir Putin ally) Oleg Deripaska," Mr Mnuchin said.

"But the US Government is not targeting the hard-working people who depend on RUSAL and its subsidiaries."

The move came after Rio Tinto, which owns the remaining 80 per cent of Queensland Alumina Limited, attempted to invoke the "force majeure" clause in its contract with RUSAL.

The move would allow Rio to walk away from its agreements with RUSAL and limit its exposure to the sanctions.

Rio also warned in its first quarter report that the sanctions could mean it would have to lower its alumina production target at QAL.

When contacted by The Observer, a Rio Tinto spokesperson said the company was continuing to work through the implications of the sanctions.

"However at this point we do not expect significant impact on the QAL operations," the spokesperson said, echoing the company's earlier statements.