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Tánaiste welcomes US announcement which will release Aughinish Alumina from impact of US sanctions

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., has welcomed today’s announcement by United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control of its intention to terminate the sanctions imposed on UC Rusal plc, the Russian parent company of Aughinish Alumina. This will have the effect – following the conclusion of a 30 day Congressional review period – of releasing Limerick-based Aughinish Alumina from the impact of US sanctions.

Following the announcement, the Tánaiste said:

‘‘Since sanctions targeting the business interests of certain Russian individuals were announced in April, the Government has engaged extensively with the US Administration to outline the risks these measures posed to Aughinish Alumina and to work towards a solution which safeguarded the company’s future and the livelihoods of those employed there.

Through our Embassy in Washington DC, and in bilateral engagement by the Taoiseach, Ministers Donohoe, Humphreys and myself, we have made clear that the Government understands the rationale behind these sanctions – namely to target identified individuals as a response to the unacceptable actions of the Russian State. We have been determined, however, that the measures taken by the US should not have the unintended consequence of imperilling Aughinish Alumina and the many hundreds of jobs that are sustained and supported by the firm across the Mid-West of Ireland. 

Today’s announcement is therefore a very welcome return on the intensive efforts made to protect Aughinish Alumina and the many jobs that are sustained and supported by the firm. While we need to await the conclusion of the Congressional review period, today’s announcement should mean that Aughinish will soon no longer be impacted by the sanctions. I would like to thank the management of the company, together with the staff of my Department, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Finance, who have worked so hard to bring us to this point.

I also want to acknowledge the excellent cooperation and constructive engagement we have had with the US authorities – both with the American Embassy in Dublin and with the Administration in Washington DC, through our Ambassador to the US, Dan Mulhall – as well as with the European Commission and other EU Member States affected by the sanctions.”

Press Office
19 December 2018

Notes to Editors

Aughinish Alumina is an alumina processing company located on the banks of the Shannon in Askeaton, County Limerick. A major industrial facility, it employs over 600 people and produces approximately a third of Europe’s alumina, a key input to aluminum production. 

Established in 1983, Aughinish Alumina was acquired by the Swiss firm Glencore International AG in 1999 before its subsequent acquisition by Rusal, a Russian company and the world’s second biggest aluminium producer, in 2007.

On 6 April 2018, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 26 specific Russian individuals and 15 Russian companies, including Rusal, its parent company EN+, and its major shareholder Mr Oleg Deripaska. Because of the manner in which such measures are applied, other companies, including Aughinish Alumina, which were owned or controlled by those specified firms, also effectively became sanctioned as well. The US Treasury Department did, however, following representations from the Irish Government and others, subsequently issue a number of licences that allowed Rusal and its subsidiaries to effectively maintain operations until early January. In announcing these licences, Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin affirmed that the target of the US measures was Mr Oleg Deripaska, not the companies he owned, remarking that the ‘‘U.S. government is not targeting the hardworking people who depend on RUSAL and its subsidiaries.”

Since the sanctions were announced, the Government has engaged extensively with the US authorities, with the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe T.D., Minister of State Pat Breen T.D. and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan T.D. all raising the issue with senior members of the Administration.  Minister Donohoe raised our concerns with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin in Washington DC just last week. Throughout this period, the Embassy in Washington DC has remained in regular contact with the relevant US authorities, as well as with the management of Aughinish Alumina.

Today’s announcement means that the US Department of Treasury proposes ‘‘to de-list’’ Rusal and its subsidiaries, including Aughinish Alumina, such that they and companies engaging with them will no longer be subject to the sanctions announced on 6 April. The US Congress has 30 days to review the decision taken by the US Treasury. Once that period concludes, and assuming Congress does not pass a resolution of joint disapproval in that period, Aughinish Alumina will no longer be impacted by the sanctions.

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