US sanctions on Rusal: Oldendorff Carriers in Guyana to close operations

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Oldendorff Carriers, a German-headquartered bauxite transshipment company, is expected to close its operations here placing some 200 Guyanese jobs in jeopardy.

Bauxite is barged 240 km downstream from mines near Aroaima, using 20 purpose-built covered barges of 3,000 tdw each, and six tugs. The cargo is then transferred from the barges to ocean-going ships, using Oldendorff’s floating crane, as well as the ships’ own gear. (Oldendorff image)

This move comes in light of a recent decision taken by the United States (US) Government to impose severe sanctions against Russian Aluminium (RUSAL), one of the largest aluminum producers in the world, which has a large bauxite operations base here employing over 500 persons.

RUSAL majority-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) operates in Linden and Berbice.

According to media reports, this matter was discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday with hope that discussions could be held with RUSAL with the aim of finding a replacement company.

Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told sections of the media on Thursday that he has planned to meet with the two unions representing RUSAL and Oldendorff workers.

Both the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) and the People United and General Workers Union were unaware of this move, but raised concerns over whether workers will be paid severance.

As the US sanctions against Russian business tycoon Oleg Deripaska, main owner of the EN+ conglomerate — co-owner of Rusal — begins to sink in, local operations in Guyana has significantly scaled back on its exportation of bauxite.

According to reports, the sanctions against Rusal have caused aluminum prices to surge, since the sanctions freeze all of the company’s assets under the US jurisdiction.

The US Treasury Department recently announced sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies they either own or control, and 17 senior Government officials who Washington said were profiting from the Russian Government’s engagement in “a range of malign activities” around the world.

The Treasury Department warned that US entities would be “generally prohibited” from dealings with the persons and firms on the sanctions list, while added that companies outside the United States could face sanctions for “knowingly facilitating significant transactions for, or on behalf of,” the sanctioned entities.

Rusal owns assets in Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Nigeria, Guyana, Guinea. It also owns a stake in Australian QAL, the world’s top alumina refinery.

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