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Tuesday 23 July 2019

Sanctions on Aughinish Alumina set to be lifted after US Senate vote

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

Gavin McLoughlin

US sanctions affecting Limerick refinery Aughinish Alumina look set to be lifted, after a bid to stop their removal was defeated in the US Senate.

Democratic senators failed to get the votes needed to block the US government's plan to lift the sanctions.

The sanctions hit Aughinish because they were imposed on its parent company - Russian business Rusal, which has links to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Mr Deripaska agreed a deal with the US Treasury Department whereby he would reduce his stake in Rusal to have the sanctions lifted.

The deal was agreed because US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the sanctions were designed to damage Mr Deripaska, rather than his companies in particular.

Some 450 people are employed at the Aughinish refinery, which had previously warned that the sanctions could cast doubt on the plant's future.

Limerick TD Tom Neville last night said the result of the vote means the sanctions can now be lifted on the major Limerick employer.

"It is a relief for management and the workers of Aughinish Alumina that the issue is moving towards a favourable outcome. I'm very mindful of the workers of Aughinish and the associated businesses, the majority of whom are based in County Limerick," he added.

Irish Independent

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