Rusal, the leading Russian aluminium producer, has announced the establishment of a joint working group with Australia’s Queensland state government to develop power projects in Australia.

The group should form the basis for cooperation between Rusal and Queensland’s government in exploring opportunities for the expansion of Rusal’s interests in Australia, the potential development of an aluminium smelter and the associated base-load generating capacity using alternative fuels.

The agreement was reached in Moscow during a meeting between Rusal CEO Alexander Bulygin and Queensland state primer Peter Beattie.

“The development of new projects in Australia is part of our strategy to expand throughout key markets and to strengthen our position as an energy and metal corporation embracing both aluminium smelters and power generating assets,” said Bulygin. “Within the framework of our strategy we’ve been actively seeking new opportunities to produce globally competitive electric energy required for the construction of aluminium production facilities. We think Queensland has great potential for the establishment of additional energy generating capacity as the basis for the development of aluminium industry and related projects.”

Premier Beattie noted that “as a 20% stakeholder in Queensland Alumina (QAL) Rusal is today the largest Russian investor into the Australian economy. The development of energy and aluminium projects based on Rusal’s competitive advantages will provide a significant impetus for industrial development in regional Queensland.”

The establishment of the joint working group will facilitate ongoing discussions between the company and the Queensland government, especially in the areas of energy which could include expansion of existing generating capacity and the development of new baseload capacity using alternative fuels.

Rusal’s existing investment in Queensland is its 20% equity in Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL), which owns and operates the world’s second largest alumina refinery at Gladstone with a capacity of almost 4mn tonnes annually.