US sanctions on Russian tycoon…potentially devastating blow to industry – JagdeoAs the United States (US) sanctions against Russian business tycoon Oleg Deripaska, who is the main owner of the EN+ conglomerate, which is the co-owner of Rusal begins to sink in, the local operation in Guyana has significantly scaled back on its exportation of bauxite. This is according to President of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) Lincoln Lewis.Lincoln LewisRusal is one of the largest aluminum producers in the world and has operations here in Guyana in the form of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), employing over 500 persons. 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.Lewis, in a telephone interview on Saturday with Guyana Times said the Union is still analysing the implications of the sanctions in the Guyana context and would be requesting a meeting with the Natural Resources Minister in the coming days.“We have to make an assessment of how the sanctions will impact Guyana as a country and the effect it will have on Rusal’s operations here. We are monitoring the operations of Rusal and what we do know is Rusal has virtually scaled back on their shipment of bauxite out of Guyana,” Lewis said.“We have to continue to analyse the situation and right now we will be seeking a meeting with the Government. As a matter of fact, on Monday we will be dispatching a letter to the Ministry (of Natural Resources) to have a meeting with the Minister and see how we will move forward,” Lewis added.When contacted, a senior manager at Rusal again said they are yet to receive word from their Moscow Headquarters as it relates to their operations but did confirm the company has scaled back on its exportation of bauxite.Devastating blowMeanwhile, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at a press briefing on Friday said a “potentially devastating blow” could be dealt to the bauxite workers, particularly those in the Berbice River area.“We are talking about over 900 people who may be depending on how the issues go and from what I understand it is really those jobs that are all seriously threatened, and this is because of the consequences of the US sanctions on Rusal. So many of the companies with which they are engaging, particularly the transhipment company have already signalled reluctance to continue to service the operations,” he said.“Our Government is silent on it. Our President would fly off to London and leave the fate of thousands in uncertainty, so it would affect New Amsterdam as well as the Berbice River and all of Region 10,” Jagdeo added.Meanwhile, Oldendorff Carriers, which handles the shipping logistics for Rusal has reportedly given noticed to withdraw its service as a result of the sanction. Oldendorff Carriers is located in the Berbice River. However, the company has recently announced that transshipment arrangements with Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc remains intact.Deripaska has also been charged in US special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation regarding Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US presidential election.Last week, the US Treasury Department announced the sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies they either owned or controlled 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.The US Government’s decision to include Deripaska on its sanctions blacklist will reverberate around the world because his business empire has a global footprint and counts major multinationals as partners.Deripaska, estimated by Forbes magazine to have a net worth of $6.7 billion, is the main owner of the conglomerate EN+, which in turn is the co-owner of some of the world’s biggest metals producers – Rusal and Nornickel.Deripaska’s inclusion on the US sanctions list could potentially create complications too for companies with which he does business; including German car giant Volkswagen and commodities trader Glencore.Rusal had said it regretted its inclusion on the US sanctions list, adding that its advisors were studying the situation. Hong Kong-listed Rusal is one of the world’s biggest aluminium producers. It says exports to the United States account for over 10 per cent of its output.Rusal owns assets in Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Nigeria, Guyana and Guinea. It owns a stake in Australian QAL, the world’s top alumina refinery.