Biden Administration stops short of aluminium sanctions on Russia

The US is not yet committing to sanctions against Russia that could disrupt global aluminium supplies, with the market already facing severe shortages of the industrial metal.

According to people familiar with the matter, White House officials met with industry representatives in recent weeks and told them there was no intention of levying sanctions that would hit Russian aluminium at this current stage.

The US is reliant on Russian-supplied aluminium, which accounts for roughly 10% of total US imports. The metal is used in everything from iPhones to automobiles and fighter jets.

The aluminium price had hit a record high of US$3,480 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange following President Joe Biden’s warning that Russia faced ‘severe sanctions’ after Vladimir Putin ordered a military attack on Ukraine. However, the price retreated after Bloomberg News reported the latest White House discussions.

Increasing post-pandemic demand has pushed aluminium prices up by more than 55% in the past year, while the supply situation remains limited due to cost-related mill closures in Europe and efforts by China to curb pollution via output cuts.

Almost four years ago, the US levied sanctions on Russian aluminium producer United Co. Rusal International PJSC that sent prices surging and leaving buyers scrambling to find units.