200 RUSAL jobs in jeopardy as US sanctions hit home

Some 200 Guyanese jobs have been threatened following a decision taken by Oldendorff Carriers, a German-headquartered bauxite transshipment company, to close its operations in Guyana.
This move comes in light of a recent choice taken by the United States (US) Government to impose severe sanctions against Russian Aluminium (RUSAL), which has a large operations base here.
RUSAL majority-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) operates in Linden and Berbice.
According to media reports, this matter was discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday with hope that discussions could be held with RUSAL with the aim of finding a replacement company.
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told sections of the media on Thursday that he has planned to meet with the two unions representing RUSAL and Oldendorff workers.
Both the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) and the People United and General Workers Union were unaware of this move, but raised concerns over whether workers will be paid severance.
Ever since the US sanctions against Russian business tycoon Oleg Deripaska, main owner of the EN+ conglomerate — co-owner of Rusal — begins to sink in, the local operation in Guyana has significantly scaled back on its exportation of bauxite.
Rusal is one of the largest aluminum producers in the world, and has operations here in Guyana in the form of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), employing over 500 persons.
According to reports, the sanctions against Rusal have caused aluminum prices to surge, since the sanctions freeze all of the company’s assets under the US jurisdiction.
BCGI said recently that it has continuously been monitoring the situation. A senior management official at the company had said that since the news broke, there has not been any change to operations here.
However, while reiterating that it is still too early to make an assessment, the official noted that, over the past three weeks or so, the company has being making “huge investments” to purchase equipment.
The US Treasury Department recently announced sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies they either own or control, and 17 senior Government officials who Washington said were profiting from the Russian Government’s engagement in “a range of malign activities” around the world.
“Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities,” the US statement added.
The Treasury Department warned that US entities would be “generally prohibited” from dealings with the persons and firms on the sanctions list, while added that companies outside the United States could face sanctions for “knowingly facilitating significant transactions for, or on behalf of,” the sanctioned entities.
A report published by Reuters on Friday said the US Government’s decision to include Deripaska on its sanctions blacklist will reverberate around the world, because his business empire has a global footprint and counts major multinationals as partners.
Deripaska, estimated by Forbes magazine to have a net worth of $6.7 billion, is the main owner of the conglomerate EN+, co-owner of some of the world’s biggest metals producers, Rusal and Nornickel.
According to the international news agency, Deripaska’s inclusion on the U.S. sanctions list could potentially create complications for companies with which he does business. They include German car giant Volkswagen and commodities trader Glencore.
Rusal, Reuters reported, had said it regretted its inclusion on the U.S. sanctions list, adding that its advisors were studying the situation.
Hong Kong-listed Rusal is one of the world’s biggest aluminium producers. It says exports to the United States account for over 10 percent of its output.
Rusal owns assets in Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Nigeria, Guyana, Guinea. It also owns a stake in Australian QAL, the world’s top alumina refinery.