Alcoa lobbying US, LME to sanction Russian aluminium

Alcoa has been lobbying the US government to sanction Russian aluminium, the major global and leading US aluminium producer said at a conference in New York on Wednesday November 16

“I can give you some insight into our thinking about what we were pushing the LME to do and what we continue to lobby the US government to do,” William Oplinger, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Alcoa, said at Goldman Sachs Global Metals & Mining Conference.

One conference attendee commented on the London Metal Exchange decision the previous week not to ban or limit Russian-origin brands.

“The LME kind of told us last Friday that it sounds like they’re waiting for the White House [for a decision],” the attendee said.

“Yes… [but] I am certainly not in the position to speak for the White House,” Oplinger said. “Essentially, the [worldwide] energy crisis… has been caused by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia… Western world suppliers have had to deal with that energy crisis in aluminum and yet the aluminum industry in Russia hasn’t had to deal with that.”

“So our lobbying with the US government has been: if you’re looking for opportunities to sanction Russia further, there’s an opportunity to so on aluminum,” he added.

Oplinger did not specify whether he meant a total ban on the US importing Russian aluminium, which has been under renewed discussion since mid-October.

He said the LME decision to make no changes to how it handles Russian aluminium was “interesting.”

“[I]f Russian metal continues to go into the LME, the underlying LME contract will be based on a product that is less desired by customers. And hence, you’ve got a reference price that is theoretically lower than what it should be,” Oplinger said.

“Our argument with the LME is that, you’re essentially damaging your own brand, you’re damaging the underlying contract by continuing to allow Russian metal into the warehouses.”

“The discussion or the lobbying with US government is slightly different, slightly more nuanced,” he added.

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