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RusAl Seeks to Protect Guinea Assets

United Company RusAl, the world’s largest aluminum producer, said that Guinean unions’ demands for its Friguia plant deal to be annulled have no legal merit and promised to protect its ownership rights.

Guinean labor unions backed by the main worker federation, CNTG, have asked the government to annul the 2006 contract that sold the country’s Friguia alumina refinery to RusAl, a union leader said Thursday.

Amadou Diallo, CNTG’s secretary general, said that it was “a collective demand from all the unions and they are all backing this memorandum.”

RusAl said Friday that it has not received a copy of the memorandum despite an official request, but it sees no legal ground in such a demand.

“RusAl has been and remains a rightful owner of the Friguia bauxite and alumina complex and will protect its ownership rights by all legal means around the world,” a RusAl spokesman said in an e-mail.

“We hope that the government of the Republic of Guinea will act in accordance with the laws of Guinea and international law,” the spokesman added.

RusAl paid $19 million in 2006 for the refinery, a price the current government has said was too low.

Labour unions at the refinery have been embroiled in a wage dispute with RusAl for several years, leading to numerous strikes and shutdowns.

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