By Joe Bavier, Clara Denina and Helen Reid
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Rio Tinto Ltd received a shipment of alumina from Russia’s Rusal in late March, weeks after it said it was severing ties with Russian companies following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, a source said. Friday an analysis of shipping data.
The shipment illustrates how complicated and slow it can be for companies operating in an interconnected global economy to keep their promises to cut ties with Russia.
Unlike a number of other Russian companies, Rusal is not the target of sanctions, although its billionaire founder Oleg Deripaska is.
Rio Tinto declined to comment on the shipment and reiterated a March 10 statement to Reuters that read, “Rio Tinto is in the process of terminating all business relationships it has with any Russian business.”
Rusal declined requests for comment from Reuters.
On March 24, a bulk cargo ship departed Rusal’s Aughinish refinery in Ireland, which produces alumina as a feedstock for aluminum, according to shipping data from Refinitiv.
It traveled north to Iceland, where it docked in Straumsvik, home of Rio Tinto’s ISAL aluminum smelter, on March 29. On April 1, the ship left Straumsvik and returned to Aughinish, where it arrived on the evening of April 4.
A source close to Rio Tinto said unraveling trade relations with Russia is taking time as the company needed to find alternative supplies.
Rio Tinto also supplies bauxite from its mine in Brazil at Aughinish, but shipping data indicates it has not delivered any ore to the Rusal refinery in the past 30 days.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which Russia calls a “special military operation” – and the backlash against it have wreaked havoc on Rusal’s supply chains.
Australia, the world’s largest producer of bauxite, has banned aluminum ore exports to Russia.
Rio Tinto said on Friday that it had taken sole charge of the operations and production of Australian refiner Queensland Alumina Ltd, of which Rusal has a 20% stake.
Miner and trader Glencore said last week that it would continue to honor its legal obligations under pre-existing contracts with Russian entities, but would not engage in any new business activity relating to “genuine products”. Russian”.
(Reporting by Joe Bavier and Helen Reid in Johannesburg, and Clara Denina in London; Editing by David Holmes)
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