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Australia Bans Aluminum Ore Exports to Russia

alumina
Alumina refinery, Queensland, Australia (Public domain)

Published Mar 20, 2022 10:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

The government of Australia has decided to ban the export of bauxite and alumina to Russia, dealing a blow to Russian aluminum giant Rusal. 

Russian aluminum producers get about 20 percent of their alumina supply from Australia. Morrison's administration believes that by cutting off the flow of ore, it can crimp the production of a metal that plays a key role in the Russian military machine.

"It's a critical input into weaponry, including guns, ammunition and missiles. Our decision here should say very clearly that to all countries, all companies operating in Australia, we are watching these things very, very carefully," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference Sunday. 

New sanctions on Rusal have not yet been imposed, though there is bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate for renewing them. Listing Rusal would come with consequences for consumers: the company makes about six percent of the world's aluminum supply, and removing its exports from the global market would raise the cost of many components and products. 

Separately, Australia will also donate 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to help power the Ukrainian electrical grid. "They need that before the end of May, and we have arranged the shipping for that to take place and are working with other countries to ensure it can get to Ukraine," said Morrison. He did not specify the delivery route, but it could include an overland component. Ukraine's seaports are closed due to hostilities in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. 

In addition, Morrison's office has arranged to provide $15 million for ammunition and other basic military needs, plus another $22 in humanitarian aid.