Rio Tinto relieves Rusal of Queensland Alumina stake

Rio Tinto

Queensland Alumina Limited operations. Image: Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has taken full ownership of the Gladstone alumina refinery in Queensland, relinquishing UC Rusal’s 20 per cent stake and removing any Russian interest in the operation.

UC Rusal previously owned or partially owned aluminium refineries, smelters and mines across five continents, but that number has now been reduced to four as the 3.7 million tonne per annum Gladstone refinery was cut from its ranks.

Rio Tinto’s take over was partially inspired by the Australian Government’s ban on the export of Alumina to Russia, as an increasing number of sanctions are placed on Russian entities and individuals.

The Gladstone refinery is owned by Queensland Alumina (QAL) – the entity now fully owned by Rio Tinto.

“As a result of the Australian Government’s sanction measures, Rio Tinto has taken on 100 per cent of the capacity and governance of Queensland Alumina until further notice,” Rio said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.

“Our focus remains on ensuring the continued safe operation of QAL, as a significant employer and contributor to the local Gladstone and Queensland economies.”

Prior to the sanctions in March, Australia had supplied nearly 20 per cent of Russia’s alumina needs which were integral for operations in the automotive, aerospace, packaging, machinery, construction and armaments industries.

The Federal Government said it will work to ensure these sanctions don’t seriously impact on the Australian resources sector.

“The Government will work closely with exporters and peak bodies that will be affected by the ban to find new and expand existing markets,” read a joint statement from several key ministers including Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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