Rio Tinto becomes first miner to cut ties with its Russian businesses

Rio Tinto has announced it will sever all ties with its Russian businesses in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s continuing invasion of Ukraine.

Rio is the first major mining company to join a growing cluster of Western businesses shunning Russian assets and suspending operations in the invading nation.

After initially suggesting it wanted to keep relationships with local businesses ‘steady’, Rio announced on Thursday it is in the process of ‘terminating all commercial relationships it has with any Russian business’, in an emailed statement.

The world’s second largest miner operates aluminium refineries in Russia’s East in partnership with producer Rusal International, along with an 80:20 joint venture (JV) with Rusal in Queensland, Australia.

Rio is currently reviewing its Queensland Alumina refinery and plans to stop supplying bauxite and sourcing alumina from Rusal’s Aughinish refinery in Ireland. The plant is a key supplier to Europe’s aluminium sector.

Aluminium prices soared on the London Metal Exchange following the announcement of Rio’s plans and the UK government’s fresh sanctions on Russian billionaires, including Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska, who has a stake in Rusal’s parent En+ Group International PJSC.