Aluminum drops on talk of Rusal sanctions relief

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The Treasury Department on Monday extended the time frame during which companies could wind down their dealings with the faltering aluminum producer targeted by US sanctions.

On April 6 the US Treasury issued a new list of 7 oligarchs and 12 companies to be sanctioned for meddling with the 2016 US presidential elections.

Wood Mackenzie analysts said Treasury's announcement provides "much-needed breathing space" for the aluminum market, adding "We expect near-term correction and volatility" in prices.

Thus, the United States authorities make it clear that sanctions can be mitigated if Deripaska sells his assets and abandons the company.

Prices of aluminum sank after the US Treasury sent out a notice on Rusal. Treasury also blocked USA persons and businesses from transactions with Rusal and EN+ Group, the industrial holding company owned by Deripaska that controls Rusal.

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The United States on Monday opened the door to sanctions relief for Russian aluminum producer United Company Rusal Plc 0486.HK, saying it was considering a company bid to avoid USA sanctions and would weigh the impact on American allies and partners. "Changing the ownership structure would be a solution". Deripaska's spokeswoman wasn't immediately available.

Countries and companies from around the world have been lobbying the U.S. government to soften the sanctions against Rusal because it was increasing clear they were causing severe disruption to global commodity markets, not only for aluminium, alumina and bauxite.

"It should calm things down", said Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank. The Russians were seeking "clarification" on Rusal and Oleg Deripaska, Mnuchin told reporters on Saturday.

At Russia's request, Mnuchin met with Siluanov during International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington last week. But on Monday, prices for the metal on the London Metal Exchange, rapidly reversed course to trade down more than 6 percent after soaring 3 percent in morning trading - a 10 percent swing within just one day. "It looks as if there was a lot of pressure from the United States aluminum downstream industry".

Even so, Treasury said it would not revoke the sanctions on Rusal until Deripaska was no longer its owner "absent other adverse information". However, the Russian oligarch is trying to save Rusal without surrendering control. They had both jumped over the last two weeks because of concern that Vladimir Potanin, the billionaire who controls Russia's biggest miner MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, could be targeted.

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