LONDON - Novelis is still buying some aluminium from Rusal under contracts agreed before Russia invaded Ukraine, but since the war started last year it has shunned new deals with the Russian firm, the US-based company's Chief Executive Steve Fisher told Reuters.
Rusal's aluminium will again come under the spotlight as the industry meets next month for what is known in the industry as the mating season, when producers, consumers and traders agree deals to buy and sell aluminium for 2024.
Currently there are no sanctions on Russian metal, but many consumers will not buy aluminium produced by Rusal, which accounts for 6% of global mined production estimated at around 70-million metric tons this year.
Novelis buys much of its primary aluminium metal from Canada and it gets "insignificant" quantities from Rusal, Fisher said, declining to detail quantities or say when its existing contracts with the Russian producer would expire.
"We have historical contracts in place with Rusal that we are honouring. Since the conflict in Ukraine began we have not entered into any new contracts, but things could change in the future, it depends on the conflict," Fisher said.
Owned by India's Hindalco Industries since 2007, Novelis is the world's largest aluminium recycler and 61% of the metal it consumes for its products used by auto and beverage firms is recycled, reducing its emissions and that of its customers.
Recycled aluminium uses 95% less energy than primary aluminium on average. Canadian aluminium and Russian aluminium mostly use hydropower, which significantly reduces emissions.
Novelis' customers including Coco Cola, Ball Corporation, Crown Holdings, Tesla, Ford Motor Company and Boeing span across Asia, Europe, North America and South America.
"Companies understand the difference between the carbon footprint of recycled versus primary aluminium," Fisher said.
Of the 3.8-million metric tons of aluminium Novelis consumed in the year to March 2023, around 2.3-million tons was recycled.
Aluminium is important for the energy transition, partly because it is used to manufacture cars and trucks that are less heavy -- a process known as lightweighting -- to achieve better fuel efficiency.
"Beverage can sheets make up about 60% of our business. Beverage packaging can be infinitely recycled into the same product again and again," Fisher said.
Novelis has a target to cut its carbon emissions by 30% in 2026 from 2016 levels and is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050.