February 22, according to four people familiar with the matter, Kazakhstan's top miner, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), has begun exporting alumina from Kazakhstan to Xinjiang, China, in an attempt to reduce its dependence on Rusal, a major buyer.
In China, the world's largest aluminium producer, it is rare to buy raw materials for aluminium production from Kazakhstan. According to Chinese customs data, China did not import any alumina from Central Asian countries in 2017 or 2018.
Another source said ERG, which produces 1.5 million tons of alumina annually, stepped up its search for new customers last year after the United States said it would impose sanctions on Russian aluminium.
Aluminum Russia bought two-thirds of ERG's aluminium oxide.
It added that recent shipments to China were part of the previously designated supply of Russian aluminium.
ERG's remaining aluminium oxide will flow into its smelter in the northeastern Kazakhstan city of Pavlodar.
In January this year, the United States lifted sanctions against Aluminum and Russia, and ERG's contract with Aluminum will expire at the end of this year.
ERG executives said last year that they would reduce the company's dependence on Alumina sales from Russia.