Russia's Rusal lands first U.S. investment since sanctions lifted

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rusal is making its first investment in the United States since Washington lifted sanctions against the Russian aluminum giant, teaming up with U.S. manufacturer Braidy Industries to build a mill in Kentucky.

FILE PHOTO: Aluminium ingots at the foundry shop of the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter, Russia October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/File Photo

Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer outside China, announced the deal in one of the main markets for the sector less then three months after it was removed from a blacklist. It had already resumed supplies to the U.S. market.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Rusal and its co-owner Oleg Deripaska in April 2018. Sanctions against Rusal and its parent En+, were lifted in January as Deripaska reduced his stake after months of talks and several extensions of the deadline for sanctions to take full effect..

Rusal and aluminum alloys manufacturer Braidy will create a joint project to produce flat-rolled aluminum products for the U.S. automotive industry, the Russian company said on Monday.

“The output from the mill will aid toward rebalancing the anticipated deficit of the auto body sheet in the U.S. market,” Rusal said in a statement.

The Atlas mill will be the first greenfield aluminum mill in the United States for 37 years, Braidy and En+ said.

“In 2021, Braidy Atlas will make the largest order for primary aluminum rolling slab worldwide,” Braidy Chief Executive Craig Bouchard said.

The binding documentation for the mill in Ashland, Kentucky, which will be 40 percent owned by Rusal and 60 percent by Braidy is expected to be signed by July, Rusal said.

It will have an annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes of hot-rolled band and 300,000 tonnes of finished cold-rolled products.

Rusal plans to supply aluminum slab alloys and primary metal for the new mill from its Taishet aluminum smelter that is currently under construction in Siberia. Rusal previously planned to launch the Taishet smelter in late 2020.

The Russian company intends to invest $200 million in this mill and supply about 2 million tonnes of low-carbon aluminum over 10 years worth about $500 million per year.

Rusal produced 3.8 million tonnes of aluminum in 2018. It historically has been the number two non-domestic supplier of prime aluminum in the United States, Braidy said.

Reporting by Polina Devitt, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Alexander Smith