Aluminium falls as United States softens on Rusal sanctions

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The US Treasury said it was extending the time limit for winding up business with Rusal and hinted at easing restrictions on the company that have upended metals from Russian Federation, to Australia, China and Europe. Deripaska said the sanctions have been cover for an attack on the Russian economy.

On April 6 the US Treasury issued a new list of 7 oligarchs and 12 companies to be sanctioned for meddling with the 2016 US presidential elections.

Washington's clarification follows two weeks of chaos in global metal markets. A German lobbying group said European plants may be forced to close and carmakers could face supply shortages. Even if sanctions are not ultimately lifted, buyers also now have more time to seek other suppliers. But Treasury's actions suggest that it is eager to avoid inconveniencing Rusal's business partners, and thus, that some mutually agreeable arrangement will likely be reached between the US and the company before the wind-down period is through.

Treasury said Americans now have until October 23 instead of June 5 to wind down their business with Rusal and that the United States was not trying to harm those who depend on the company.

Thus, the United States authorities make it clear that sanctions can be mitigated if Deripaska sells his assets and abandons the company.

Rusal declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Metal Bulletin.

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Rusal produces about 6 percent of the world's aluminum and operates mines, smelters, and refineries across the world from Guinea to Ireland, Russia to Jamaica.

Rusal declined to comment on requests from worldwide media, while Deripaska's spokeswoman wasn't immediately available. The Russians were seeking "clarification" on USA sanctions, Mnuchin said to reporters Saturday, without elaborating.

"Things have ground to a halt in terms of Rusal's dealings with major western companies", said Maximilian Hess, a senior political risk analyst at AKE International. "It looks as if there was a lot of pressure from the United States aluminum downstream industry".

The US Treasury Secretary met with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov during International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings in Washington last week. However, the Russian oligarch is trying to save Rusal without surrendering control.

The market has seen offers for duty-unpaid aluminium in Rotterdam as high as $200 per tonne in recent sessions, but several market participants no longer see such prices as achievable following the Treasury's latest decision.

The administration's official position is that the sanctions will still go into effect eventually, if Oleg Deripaska does not divest and relinquish control of the firm.

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