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13 Sep 2022

Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Russia: Rio Tinto cuts out Rusal subsidiary of Queensland operations to allegedly abide by sanctions

Russian aluminium giant cut out of Queensland operation to abide by sanctions, Rio Tinto says, 13 September 2022

Rio Tinto says it would have breached sanctions and illegally increased the wealth of two Russian oligarchs if it had not taken the dramatic step of cutting a Russian corporate giant out of a major Queensland alumina operation...

Both Vekselberg and Deripaska hold interests in Rusal, the Russian aluminium giant, which partnered with Rio Tinto to operate an alumina refinery in Gladstone, Queensland; Rio Tinto is a major employer in the region and a significant contributor to the state’s economy...

The move triggered a lawsuit from Rusal’s subsidiary, which asked the federal court to restore its rights and privileges under the joint venture deal. It told the court it had “ringfenced” its operations to ensure that Deripaska and Vekselberg did not stand to benefit from ABC.

It also said it told Rio Tinto that it would “not supply or sell alumina to the Russian Federation” and was “not taxable in the Russian Federation”.

“In these circumstances ABC is not subject to the Personal Sanctions or the Export Sanctions,” the company said in its court filing...

In a defence filed earlier this month, Rio Tinto alleged that, if that arrangement had continued, it would “have made the Gladstone plant directly or indirectly available for the benefit of Mr Deripaska and Mr Vekselberg”...

Both Rusal and Rio Tinto were approached for comment.