Russia may buy aluminum for state stocks to support Rusal: minister

FILE PHOTO: A worker serves a mixer of fused aluminium at the foundry shop of the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/File Photo

NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia (Reuters) - Russia has a plan to support world No.2 aluminum producer Rusal against U.S. sanctions put in place in April, including by purchasing the metal for state stocks, Industry Minister Denis Manturov told reporters on Tuesday.

The U.S. Treasury Department placed Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska and Rusal, which he controls, on a blacklist that month, freezing the bulk of the company’s exports, paralyzing its supply chain and scaring off many customers.

The sanctions caused major disruptions to global aluminum markets, although Rusal’s international customers were given until Oct. 23 to wind down business with the company.

En+ Group, Deripaska’s holding company, is also under sanctions.

Industry sources told Reuters in June that Rusal will take a major hit if sanctions are not lifted by late August. In July, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States was in productive talks with Rusal to remove it from the list.

Manturov, speaking to reporters in the town of Novosibirsk in Siberia, said on Tuesday that Moscow had a back-up plan if sanctions against Rusal persist.

“There might be (aluminum purchases for the state stocks) but for now, there is no such need,” he said, providing no other details.

Deripaska controls 66 percent of En+ Group, which in turn controls 48 percent of Rusal. He has already accepted that he may have to cede control of En+, if both En+ and Rusal are to survive, a source familiar with the matter said in May.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Tom Hogue