Industry group urges EU to impose broader sanctions on Russian aluminium

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union should impose broader import bans on Russian aluminium, industry group European Aluminium said on Friday, arguing that the current proposal to ban certain products would have only a limited impact.

EU members are currently debating a European Commission proposal for a 12th package of sanctions set to include import bans for diamonds and liquefied propane and measures designed to tighten implementation of a price cap on Russian oil.

It also includes bans on aluminium wires, tubes and pipes, but these only make up 12% of EU aluminium imports from Russia, European Aluminium said in a statement.

“We strongly encourage the European Union to accelerate its efforts and broaden their scope to cover all major product categories,” said Director General Paul Voss.

EU industry has already started to phase out Russian aluminium, with January-August imports down by a third from the same period in 2022, based on European Aluminium data. For ingots, Russia represented 9% of all EU imports, compared with 25% in previous years.

In the first nine months of this year, EU imported almost 500,000 metric tons of Russian aluminium and aluminium products worth 1.26 billion euros ($1.37 billion), according to Eurostat data. For 2022, imports were worth 2.84 billion euros.

In July, the group sent a letter to members saying it had discussed the possibility of “actively calling for EU sanctions on Russian aluminium”, but not on Russian major producer Rusal.

While substituting other supply for Russian ingots would be feasible in Europe, the wide global spread of Rusal’s operations makes sanctions on that company more problematic, July’s memorandum said.

Friday’s statement did not mention Rusal, which produced 4 million metric tons of primary aluminium last year, about 6% of global supply.

European Aluminium members include refiners, smelters, manufacturers of semi-finished products and recyclers, including top producers Hydro, Alcoa and Rio Tinto.

($1 = 0.9198 euros)

(Reporting by Eric Onstad and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Nick Macfie and Jane Merriman)