Europeans Trim Russian Aluminium Purchases, But Deals Continue

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Hey there, aluminum aficionados! It’s your favorite aluminum enthusiast, Rina Meng, here to spill the beans on the latest buzz in the aluminum profile industry. Today, we’re diving into the world of European aluminum buyers and their relationship with Russia’s very own Rusal. Brace yourselves for a wild ride!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Who in their right mind would want to buy aluminum from Russia amidst all the geopolitical drama? Well, my dear readers, the answer might surprise you. According to trade data, European industrial customers are still getting their hands on some Russian aluminum this year. But hold your horses, because there’s a twist!

While some folks have decided to give Rusal the cold shoulder due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, others are sneaking around and signing deals for 2024. It seems like these buyers are having a hard time finding alternative sources for the material they need. Tricky, right? It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but with aluminum!

Picture this: the Fastmarkets aluminum conference in Barcelona. Last year, they decided to give Rusal the boot because of the whole Ukraine situation. But guess what? This year, Rusal’s sales team is back in action, hosting clients in a meeting room at the conference hotel. Talk about a comeback!

But wait, there’s more! The looming question on everyone’s mind is whether new barriers will pop up. You see, Europe’s aluminum industry group has been toying with the idea of lobbying for EU sanctions on Russian aluminum. However, they’re not specifically targeting Rusal. Sneaky, sneaky! According to Charles Julien, a lawyer with White and Case in Geneva, these sanctions are about as likely as finding a unicorn riding a rainbow. In other words, not very likely at all!

Now, let’s talk about the mating season. No, no, not for humans, silly! We’re talking about the aluminum market here. This is the time when suppliers and consumers lock in those precious supply deals. And guess who’s making good progress? You got it—Rusal! They’re sealing deals left and right for next year, especially in the auto and high-voltage cable sectors. Who knew aluminum could be so romantic?

But hold your horses, because not everyone is head over heels for Russian aluminum. Some buyers are considering other options. Take Alumil, a Greek company that makes aluminum windows and other industrial products. They might just give Rusal the cold shoulder. Sotiris Voulgarakis, their procurement manager, says they’re still receiving Rusal material but will think twice before renewing their contract. Ouch, that’s gotta sting!

And let’s not forget about the concerns of end buyers. One French industrial consumer, who shall remain nameless, is on the hunt for non-Russian aluminum during the conference. Why, you ask? Well, it seems that some of their customers have their knickers in a twist about the whole Russian situation. Gotta keep those customers happy, right?

Oh, and financing issues? Yeah, they’re causing some buyers to steer clear of Russian aluminum. It’s like having a bank or insurance company play the role of the party pooper. They’ll say, “Hold your horses, this is Russian stuff we’re talking about!” Talk about raining on their aluminum parade!

Now, let’s talk inventory. Critics of Russian metal are raising their voices, claiming that it should be banned from London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses. Why, you ask? Well, apparently, Russian aluminum is dominating the inventories and messing with the prices. It’s like having a big, burly bear in a china shop!

But fear not, my fellow aluminum enthusiasts! Rusal’s Roman Borisov has a thing or two to say about this. He claims that the Russian-origin aluminum in LME-approved warehouses is providing much-needed liquidity when inventories are low. After all, those Russian-origin LME stocks are just a tiny fraction of the massive aluminum market. It’s like a drop in the aluminum ocean!

Overall, it seems like European buyers are still playing footsie with Russian aluminum, despite the geopolitical tensions. Some are sticking by Rusal’s side, while others are eyeing alternative suppliers. The aluminum market is a wild rollercoaster ride, my friends, full of twists, turns, and unexpected surprises.

And with that, I bid you adieu, my aluminum aficionados! Thanks for joining me on this aluminum adventure. Remember, when life gives you aluminum, make something amazing out of it! Until next time, keep shining bright like aluminum stars! Catch you on the flip side, my fellow aluminum enthusiasts!

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