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Oldendorff closing bauxite transshipment operations in Guyana due to US sanctions against RUSAL

Oldendorff’s transshipment operations in Guyana’s Berbice River.

Oldendorff Carriers, the German-headquartered bauxite transshipment company that employs almost 200 Guyanese, has reportedly decided to shut down its operations in Guyana because of United States (US) sanctions against Russian Aluminium (RUSAL).

Tradewindsnews reported that Oldendorff told that publication that it “will fully comply with US sanctions and therefore will be winding up its business in Guyana in a timely manner.”

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman told Demerara Waves Online News that he planned to meet with representatives of RUSAL and Oldendorff Friday afternoon. Against the backdrop of shaky situation, he said RUSAL might have to hire another company to move bauxite from its Upper Berbice river operations eventually to international ocean-going bauxite ships.

“As I briefed Cabinet on Tuesday, I believe that we would have to look at a long-term solution because indeed I believe the relationship with Oldendorff-RUSAL will be affected in the long term so we are looking at some short-term measures,” he said, adding that government was being provided daily updates.

The minister is also scheduled to meet with the two unions that each represent RUSAL and Oldendorff workers.

Trade unions representing workers at the RUSAL majority-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) and Oldendorff Carriers were up to Thursday night left in the dark. General  Secretary of People United and General Workers Union, Micah Williams planned to pen a letter to Oldendorff Carriers (Guyana) on Friday to seek a formal update because if the 185 Guyanese workers are to be laid off they would have to be paid severance.

General Secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU), Lincoln Lewis said he was unclear about the fate of BCGI-RUSAL workers because that company has taken a decision that it would not be speaking with the union.

If Oldendorff shuts down its operations in Guyana, that would amount to a hard-knock domino effect of US sanctions against RUSAL which is owned by Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska’s EN Group. Although he has stepped down from the chairmanship of the EN Group, which has a 48 percent stake in RUSAL,   the US Treasury Department has escalated its sanctions against that aluminium company. American companies are effectively blocked from transacting business with RUSAL or they could be penalised.

Meanwhile, the GBGWU General Secretary said he was told that mining operations at BCGI-RUSAL were shut down at 11 AM Thursday until further notice because of a fuel shortage caused by technical problems on a fuel barge.