Australia bans alumina exports to Russia, steps up Ukraine aid

Canberra says Russia relies on Australia for 20 percent of its alumina needs and the export ban will limit its capacity to produce aluminium.

A ship is loaded at a port at the Rio Tinto alumina refinery in Gove, also known as Nhulunbuy, located 650 kilometers (404 miles) east of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory July 16, 2013.
A ship is loaded at a port at the Rio Tinto alumina refinery in Gove, also known as Nhulunbuy, in Australia's Northern Territory July 16, 2013 [File: David Gray/ Reuters]

Australia has expanded its sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, banning all exports of alumina and bauxite in a bid to limit Moscow’s capacity to produce aluminium.

Announcing the export ban on Sunday, the Australian government said “Russia relies on Australia for nearly 20 percent of its alumina needs” and that the move will affect Russian aluminium production.

Aluminium is a critical export for Russia.

The Australian export ban comes just days after Canberra sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who owns a stake in Queensland Alumina Limited – a joint venture between Russian aluminium company Rusal and mining giant Rio Tinto. The latter has promised to sever all business ties with Russia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government was working with partners to “put the maximum cost, the maximum pressure on the Putin regime to withdraw from Ukraine”.

Morrison said Australia had levelled 476 sanctions against Russian individuals and institutions since the invasion began.

He also announced Australia would donate 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to Ukraine, following a request from the besieged nation.

“We understand that it can power up to one million homes,” he said.

In addition, Australia will up its humanitarian assistance with an additional 30 million Australian dollars ($22.3m), and will donate a further 21 million Australian dollars ($15.6m) in defensive military assistance to Ukraine, including ammunition and body armour.

In recent weeks, the government has approved nearly 5,000 visas from Ukrainians displaced by the conflict, Morrison said.

He announced that Ukrainian refugees would be eligible for a new three-year humanitarian visa, allowing them to work, study and access the country’s health system.

Source: News Agencies