Government wants Aughinish refinery to continue operating

Oleg Deripaska, whose company owns the Aughinish Alumina refinery in Askeaton

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said he will seek to work with management at the Aughinish Alumina refinery in Askeaton to mitigate the impact of sanctions that are likely to be imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Coveney also confirmed that he has asked the European Commission to consider a package of supports for EU countries that will be severely disrupted by sanctions and counter sanctions by Russia.

He said there was “an overwhelming view now that we shouldn’t be holding back, even though this will have knock-on implications and some unintended consequences”.

He was speaking after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar met management at the refinery last week and told them the Government wants it to continue operating.

Meanwhile Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, whose company Rusal owns the Aughinish refinery, has called for peace between Russia and Ukraine, a move that puts him at odds with the Kremlin.

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Rusal, which is the world’s biggest aluminium producer outside China, has halted shipments at an alumina refinery in Ukraine that feeds its smelters in Russia.

Rusal was taken off a US sanctions list three years ago after Mr Deripaska divested himself of his majority stake in the company.

“Peace is very important,” Mr Deripaska posted on the Telegram messaging app to his more than 71,000 subscribers yesterday.

“Negotiations need to start as soon as possible.”

Aughinish Alumina is Europe’s biggest alumina producer, employing more than 450 people at its plant near the Shannon Estuary in Askeaton. It was responsible for a quarter of Rusal’s alumina production last year.