EU imports metals from Russia, sanctions haven’t hurt mining and metals sector

The European Union continues to import metal products from Russia, paying the aggressor state millions of euros. Most of the imported goods are semi-finished products, accounting for 83% of the total supply.

What metals does Russia supply to the EU?

In November 2023, the European Union imported metal products from Russia worth €93.21 million, down 38.7% year-on-year. This is down 23.5% compared to October and 43.5% compared to November 2022.

Belgium received most of the semi-finished products, which accounted for 83% of the total supply of imported goods. Russia also exported pig iron and ferroalloys to the EU.

In general, the European Union reduced imports of mining and metals products from Russia by 15.4% in November 2023 compared to the previous month, to 202.86 thousand tons.

Compared to November 2022, the EU reduced imports of such products by 38.7%. Eurostat data provides evidence of the EU reducing imports of such products by 38.7% compared to November 2022.

Russia did not supply any iron ore to the EU in November. Imports of pig iron amounted to 30.1 thousand tons, up 72% m/m and 26.2% y/y; ferroalloys: 2.61 thousand tons (-32.5% m/m; -59.2% y/y); and scrap metal: 1.71 thousand tons (-49.3% m/m).

In November, the main consumers of these Russian mining and metal products were:

  • Pig iron: Italy, 19.5 thousand tons (+50.3% y/y);
  • Ferroalloys: the Netherlands, 2.02 thousand tons (-62.8% y/y);
  • Scrap: Lithuania, 1.28 thousand tons (not imported in November 2022).

Sanctions have not yet hit the Russian mining and metals sector

Despite the sanctions imposed on Russia, the Russian mining and metals sector continues to make significant profits from exporting products to the European Union. Although the figures are down significantly compared to 2022, in particular, last year’s exports amounted to 7.92 million tons worth €3.87 billion, supplies are still high.

In the 12th package, the EU extended quotas on Russian slabs for another four years. From October 2024 to September 2028, the EU has set the total import quota for this product at 8.5 million tons, with a more detailed breakdown by period.

The EU imposed the previous sanctions on slab imports as part of the 8th sanctions package. At that time, Brussels decided that the sanctions on slab imports would last until the end of September 2024 within the established quotas and that imports would cease on October 1, 2024. However, the 12th package of sanctions actually eased the previously imposed restrictions.

Will the EU ban Russian aluminum?

The European Union is considering imposing an embargo on Russian aluminum products as part of the 13th package of sanctions, which could be a new stage of sanctions against Russia’s energy sector.

A ban on Russian aluminum products can be another way to impose sanctions on the Russian energy sector.

According to European Aluminium, a trade organization representing the interests of aluminum producers in the EU, the previous sanctions did not affect about 85% of Russian exports to the EU.

Since aluminum production requires a large amount of electricity, sanctions against Russian aluminum could be an effective tool to influence Russia’s energy sector.

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