Business Irish

Thursday 22 August 2019

US grants another 11th hour reprieve for Aughinish

The Aughinish Alumina Refinery on the Shannon Estuary
The Aughinish Alumina Refinery on the Shannon Estuary

Dearbhail McDonald Group Business Editor

THE US government has granted yet another temporary reprieve against the Russian owners of the Aughinish Alumina factory in west Limerick.

Yesterday the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) extended, until December 12, licences allowing Rusal, which in turn owns Aughinish, to continue doing business.

The future of Aughinish has been in doubt since last April when the United States imposed sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and eight companies in which he is a large shareholder, including Rusal.

However the sanctions have been postponed several times since then as the US considers removing Rusal from the US blacklist if Mr Deripaska drops his control over EN+, which owns 48pc of Rusal.

The sanctions caused havoc in the global aluminium market, prompting several countries, including Ireland and France, to lobby the US for a softening of the terms on Rusal.

Aughinish Alumina is a key strategic asset in the global aluminium supply chain, producing 30pc of alumina in the European Union.

Ireland had sought a minimum 12-month extension to help save hundreds of jobs amid concerns the sanctions could see production at Aughinish slashed by up to 70pc or face closure.

OFAC's extension of the deadline until December 12 ensures that the outcome of the sanctions review, which must be approved by Congress, does not fall during the fraught midterm elections in the US.

(Additional reporting Reuters)

Irish Independent

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