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Statement by Tánaiste and Government Ministers on Aughinish Alumina

The Tánaiste and Government Ministers have welcomed today’s confirmation by US authorities that Aughinish Alumina (AA), the Limerick-based alumina processing firm, will no longer be directly impacted by American sanctions that were imposed on EN+ and Rusal – AA’s parent companies – in April 2018. This follows the conclusion of a de-listing process by the US Treasury, which effectively lifts those sanctions on those parent firms and their subsidiaries, including AA.

Speaking after today’s confirmation, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Simon Coveney T.D, said:

As I have made clear before, the Government has always fully understood the rationale behind these US sanctions. We share the view that unacceptable actions by the Russian regime, and those connected to it, should not go unpunished. At the same time, we have been determined that legitimate measures taken by the US authorities do not cause inadvertent damage to Irish companies like Aughinish Alumina. We have therefore worked hard, principally through our Embassy in Washington, with the US Administration towards an outcome that would protect jobs sustained and supported by the company in Limerick and across the Mid-West. While today’s confirmation means that that outcome has been secured, we will continue engaging with the US authorities, and with our EU partners, to help avoid such a scenario arising again in the future.”

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms Heather Humphreys T.D., said:

The confirmation today that Aughinish Alumina is no longer directly impacted by the US sanctions imposed in April 2018 is positive news for the company, its hard-working employees and the Mid-West region as a whole. The firm can now focus again instead on its core business and future growth.

Minister Humphreys continued:

While the immediate threat to Aughinish has now been removed, the Government recognises that the legitimate concerns which gave rise to these sanctions remain a matter of significant debate within the US political system. That is why we will continue building awareness in the United States of Aughinish’s long history in Ireland and its importance to our economy.”

The Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Mr Pat Breen T.D., also welcomed today’s news and spoke about the efforts made by Government over the last nine months to support AA:

Ever since the sanctions were announced on 6 April 2018, intensive work has been undertaken across Government in search of a solution. Government Departments – particularly Foreign Affairs & Trade and Business, Enterprise & Innovation – have worked closely and effectively with one another on what has been a complicated and fast-moving situation. Our Embassy in Washington, in particular, played a key role in leading our engagement with the US authorities. Those collective efforts, and the high-level of cooperation that underpinned them, have helped achieve today’s positive outcome for Aughinish Alumina.”

The Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, Mr Patrick O’Donovan T.D., commented as well on today’s developments, saying:

As a Limerick T.D., I know just how important Aughinish Alumina – and the jobs it supports across the County – are to the wider area. The Government has worked extremely hard to safeguard the future of the company and we will continue to support the firm in the time ahead.”

Minister O’Donovan added:

We are appreciative of the helpful and constructive approach taken by the US authorities in our engagement with them in connection with Aughinish Alumina. This was particularly evident when Minister of State Breen and I travelled to Washington in July to increase awareness within the US system about the situation faced by the company and to seek a solution.”

ENDS

  • Aughinish Alumina is an alumina processing company located on the banks of the Shannon in Askeaton, County Limerick. A major industrial facility, it employs over 600 people and produces approximately a third of Europe’s alumina, a key input to aluminum production. 
  • Established in 1983, Aughinish Alumina was acquired by the Swiss firm Glencore International AG in 1999 before its subsequent acquisition by Rusal, a Russian company and the world’s second biggest aluminium producer, in 2007.
  • On 6 April 2018, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 26 specific Russian individuals and 15 Russian companies, including Rusal, its parent company EN+, and its major shareholder Mr Oleg Deripaska. Because of the manner in which such measures are applied, other companies, including Aughinish Alumina, which were owned or controlled by those specified firms, also effectively became sanctioned as well. The US Treasury Department did, however, following representations from the Irish Government and others, subsequently issue a number of licenses that allowed Rusal and its subsidiaries to effectively maintain operations pending either the full imposition of the sanctions or their removal. 
  • Since the sanctions were announced, the Government has engaged extensively with the US authorities, with the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe T.D., Minister of State Pat Breen T.D. and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan T.D. all raising the issue with senior members of the Administration.
  • An agreement was subsequently reached in December 2018 between the US Treasury with Rusal and EN+ on changes to their ownership and governance, thereby allowing the sanctions on those firms and their subsidiaries to be lifted. That agreement has now taken effect and Aughinish Alumina is therefore no longer impacted by the sanctions. 

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