Reuters reported that Eurasian Resources Group has started shipping alumina from Kazakhstan into northwest China’s Xinjiang region, according to four people with knowledge of the matter, as the miner seeks to reduce reliance on major buyer United Company Rusal. Over 10,000 tonnes of alumina arrived at Xinjiang Tianlong Mining Co this week, having travelled by rail via China’s border city of Alashankou, two of the people said, the first time the company, which has a 250,000 tonnes per year aluminium smelting capacity, has imported the material.

Tianlong signed a deal to take a total of 12,000 tonnes from Astana-based ERG initially

ERG, which produces 1.5 million tonnes of alumina a year in Kazakhstan, stepped up its search for new customers last year after the United States said it would slap sanctions on Rusal, which takes two-thirds of ERG’s alumina, another of the sources said.

The volumes recently sent to China were part of the supply previously earmarked for Rusal. The remainder of ERG’s alumina goes to its own smelter in the city of Pavlodar in northeast Kazakhstan.