Rusal files lawsuit against Rio Tinto over QAL sanction

Russian aluminium producer Rusal has filed a lawsuit against global miner Rio Tinto, seeking to win back access to its 20 per cent share of the alumina produced at a jointly owned refiner in Queensland. Picture: Brittney Manning

Reuters

Russian aluminium producer Rusal has filed a lawsuit against global miner Rio Tinto, seeking to win back access to its 20 per cent share of the alumina produced at a jointly owned refiner in Queensland.

Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) is a joint venture between Rio Tinto, which owns 80 per cent of the product produced there, and Russian company Rusal, which owns the remaining 20 per cent.

In April, Rio stepped in to take sole control of QAL, sidelining Rusal and cutting its access to the refinery’s output of alumina, a compound from which aluminium is derived.

Rusal’s Australian unit, Alumina and Bauxite Company, said in an Australian Federal Court filing that the circumstances required for Rio to step in and take control did not exist and its actions amounted to a breach of obligations.

Rio’s move at QAL came shortly after the world’s biggest iron ore miner severed all ties with Russian businesses over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Australia banned the export of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia in March.

In the court filings reviewed by Reuters, Rusal’s subsidiary asks the federal court to restore its rights at QAL and declare there will be no breach of sanctions if its business continues there.

Rio declined to comment.

Rusal, the world’s second largest aluminium producer, could not be immediately reached for comment outside usual business hours.

Rusal was not directly targeted by Australian sanctions, but Rio’s actions were triggered by sanctions on oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, who own stakes worth 25.6 per cent and 8 per cent respectively in Rusal.

In 2018 Rusal was covered by US sanctions against Russian businessmen and companies.