Russian aluminium producer Rusal (RUAL.MM) has sued the global miner Rio Tinto (RIO.AX), seeking to win back access to its 20% share of the alumina produced at a jointly owned refiner in Queensland.
The lawsuit challenges Australia’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Which included wide-ranging sanctions against Russian firms and oligarchs who had links with President Vladimir Putin.
Rio stepped in to take sole control of Queensland Alumina Ltd (QAL) in April. This sidelined Rusal and cut its access to the refinery’s output of alumina, a compound from which aluminium is derived. Rio owns 80% of the refinery, while Rusal owns the remaining 20%.
Rio’s move at QAL came shortly after the world’s biggest iron ore miner severed all ties with Russian businesses over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine “a special operation”.
Australia banned the export of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia in March.
Rio declined to comment. Rusal, the world’s second-largest aluminium producer, could not be immediately reached for comment outside the usual business hours.
In 2018 U.S. sanctions covered Rusal against Russian businessmen and companies.