Norway’s Norsk Hydro Calls for Sanctions on Russian Aluminum

Norwegian aluminum producer Norsk Hydro has urged the United States and the European Union to stop importing Russian aluminum, company CEO Aasheim said. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused energy prices to soar, which in turn forced production cuts in Europe, Russian output has been largely unaffected. Russia’s Rusal produces around 6% of the world’s aluminum, which has not been targeted by the Western sanctions so far.

However, the U.S. has been considering a ban on Russian aluminum imports for some time, while the London Metal Exchange (LME) had published a document asking members if it should ban Russian aluminum from its system.

“We want to urge sanctions in both Europe and the U.S.” Aasheim said. “Our European industry shuts down, while … we see Russian production at the same level as before the invasion. So they are benefiting.”

Hydro produces most of its aluminum in Europe, Qatar, Brazil and Canada. It has no production in Russia and has stopped trading in Russian aluminum in the wake of the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Producing the metal, used in the automotive, packaging, construction industries among others, is highly energy-intensive.

Aasheim added that not sanctioning Russian aluminum would put future production in Europe at jeopardy, as Europe’s producers, who are facing soaring energy costs, would be unable to compete against Russian rivals.

“It is an energy-intensive business, and when the gas has been cut from Russia we see the effect on the power prices, so what is important over time is to get in more renewable power,” she said.

Norsk Hydro’s comments echoed those of U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa, which is urging the White House to block U.S. imports of the metal from Russia.

With recession looming, however, some business groups say bans on Russian aluminum would decimate European industry.

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