Efforts continue to safeguard Aughinish Alumina from US sanctions 

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Aughinish Alumina, under threat from US sanctions since April

Aughinish Alumina, under threat from US sanctions since April

MINISTER of State Patrick O’Donovan remains hopeful that a solution will be found and the  threat of sanctions against Aughinish Alumina lifted and the jobs safeguarded. 

“We are continuing to work through our diplomatic channels,” he told the Limerick Leader .

“The situation hasn’t changed. It is as it was and only the date has moved. We have heard nothing for us to have any alarm.”

Last month, Rusal which owns Aughinish, had its licences to trade with the US  extended to December 12 to allow the company to come up with a solution to address Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s interest in the company. Now that deadline has been pushed out to January 7, according to a media report earlier this week.

The US authorities originally introduced the sanctions last April, targeting  Russian individuals and businesses, among them Mr Deripaska, the majority shareholder in EN+Group which owns 48 per cent of Rusal, which in turn owns Aughinish. 

The sanctions were initially intended to punish Moscow for alleged interference in US elections.  

The Irish government has since waged a diplomatic and political offensive in a bid to ensure that Aughinish, with its 450 jobs in the plant and hundreds of other downstream jobs, avoids those sanctions. According to Minister O’Donovan, it is a case of continuing along this path. “We are  continuing with discussions with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the US Treasury and members of Congress, through our embassy and through intervention at ministerial level but we are taking nothing for granted.”

Earlier this week, the Irish Times reported EN+Group chairman, Lord Barker as saying that time was running out for a deal which would cut Mr Derispaska’s stake and lift the threat of sanctions from the group.

It was hoped, the report stated, that US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin would agree to a settlement after last week’s mid-term elections. However, it said, the deadline has again been extended, this time to January 7.