Five European industry associations said on Monday they had urged European authorities to prevent sanctions, tariffs or boycotts against Russian aluminium that they said could put thousands of companies out of business.
Russia's Rusal produces around 6% of the world's aluminium. This metal has not been targeted by Western sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
But the U.S. is considering restrictions on Russian aluminium imports and the London Metal Exchange (LME), the biggest metals trade hub, is asking members if it should ban Russian material from its system.
Some companies have said they will stop buying Russian aluminium and others, such as U.S. producer Alcoa, are lobbying for measures against Russian metal.
In a joint statement, the associations said they sent a letter to EU authorities and "requested the urgent intervention of the European Commission and of EU member states against threats of bans, high tariffs or sanctions on Russian aluminium which represent an imminent and vital threat to the European aluminium industry."
The statement said those boycotting or calling for measures against Russian metal "are either its main competitors or they enjoy supply options that are not available to the vast majority of the European aluminium value-chain."
For smaller users of aluminium in Europe, measures against Russian metal risked "potentially thousands of company closures and tens of thousands more unemployed in Europe as a direct consequence," it said.
European industry is under pressure from high inflation and rapidly slowing economic growth, while high energy prices have led to the closure of more than a million tonnes of aluminium production in Europe since 2021.
In 2018, after the United States sanctioned Rusal and the LME blocked its metal, aluminium prices shot up 35% in a matter of days.
The five associations are the Federation of Aluminium Consumers in Europe (FACE), the German Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade (BWA), the Italian Foundry Suppliers' Association (Amafond), the Italian National Association of Steels, Metals, Scrap, Hardware (Assofermet) and the Italian Foundry Association (Assofond).
(Reporting by Peter Hobson and Pratima Desai; Editing by Bernadette Baum)