aluminium|energy|flow-company|supply chain|flow-industry-term

Russian aluminium imports are hurting US market, Rio Tinto CEO warns

23rd September 2022

By: Bloomberg


Font size: - +

Rio Tinto's top executive is raising the alarm that the unfettered flow of Russian aluminum into the US is making North American producers less competitive.

Russian imports, which remain exempt from US sanctions, are flowing into the country unrestricted when allies like Australia continue to face restrictions left over from the Trump administration, CEO Jakob Stausholm said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. His comments are the most candid about the aluminum industry since taking the helm of Rio at the start of 2021.

The warning from the head of one of the world’s largest aluminum producers comes as US trade data shows Russia was the third-largest aluminum exporter to the US in August. Monthly imports from Russia were up almost 60% last month from April levels even as worldwide buyers refused to purchase Russian metal due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Aluminum prices are down more than 20% this year as demand across the globe has been hit by inflation, supply-chain issues and surging energy prices across Europe. The regional price to ship aluminum in the US is near the lowest since December, indicating demand for appliances and automobiles to window frames are shrinking in the face of uncertain economic headwinds in the world’s largest economy.

“It’s actually very difficult to have a profitable aluminum industry in North America at this point in time because Russian aluminum is flowing in,” Stausholm said. “Right now we have the lowest aluminum price this year and you would have thought the Russia-Ukraine crisis would have led to higher prices in aluminum.”

The Biden administration has held off sanctioning Russian aluminum imports due to worries that such a move would choke off American consumers from one of its most important suppliers. Russia is the world’s second-largest producer of the metal and Russian-supplied aluminum traditionally accounts for about 10% of total US imports of the metal.

Rio is the largest aluminum producer in North America, with its major assets located in Canada. Half of the aluminum consumed in the US comes from Canada.

When asked what discussions the company has had with the US government on the topic, Stausholm said he’s trying to make sure the policy towards Russia is transparent to lawmakers. Producers across the US and Europe continue to shutter smelter capacity that has become unprofitable in the wake of the energy crisis and global growth slowdown.

Russia’s producer, United Co Rusal International, is being hit as big consumers refuse to keep buying its metal, though that hasn’t prevented some North American buyers to continue importing from the company.

“It just looks strange,” Stausholm said.

Edited by Bloomberg




The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

The SAIMM started as a learned society in 1894 after the invention of the cyanide process that saved the South African gold mining industry of the...

VEGA Controls SA (Pty) Ltd
VEGA Controls SA (Pty) Ltd

For over 60 years, VEGA has provided industry-leading products for the measurement of level, density, weight and pressure. As the inventor of the...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.142 0.175s - 94pq - 2rq
1: United States
Subscribe Now
2: United States