JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Australian company Alumina has filed a counterclaim against US group Alcoa, which last month turned to a Delaware court to prevent its partner in Alcoa Worldwide Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC) from blocking a demerger plan.
Alumina said on Monday that its counterclaim sought court declarations to prevent Alcoa from taking further steps in its separation plan, announced in September, without complying with certain obligations under the AWAC agreements.
The counterclaim also sought to stop the US group from receiving offers to acquire its interest in the various AWAC companies, citing Alumina’s ‘first option rights’.
Alcoa's demerger plan would separate the company's aeroplane and aviation parts business under the name Arconic, while the traditional aluminium smelting operations, including the 60% stake in AWAC, would retain the Alcoa name.
Alumina stated that, under Alcoa’s planned separation, the US group would exit AWAC and would substitute a new unaffiliated legal entity to hold its existing interests in the JV. Alumina believed Alcoa had to obtain its consent to assign its rights and obligations to a new legal entity.
“The AWAC joint venture agreements have governed our relationship with Alcoa for over 20 years. We consider that Alcoa’s plan to substitute a new entity into the joint venture without our consent is a clear breach of these fundamental agreements.
“We understand how important the resolution of this matter is for Alcoa’s separation and have tried to negotiate with Alcoa to reach an agreement that is commercially acceptable for both parties. Alcoa has chosen instead to bring this matter before the courts,” commented Alumina CEO Peter Wasow.
AWAC has two bauxite mines and three refineries in Western Australia, as well as two smelters in Victoria.
A trial date has been set for September 20.