The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Picture: ISTOCK
The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Picture: ISTOCK

Moscow — Two of Russia’s biggest mining companies are investigating payment schemes based on the rouble, amid calls from Moscow to reduce the role of the dollar in Russian trade and so limit the impact of US sanctions.

Russia favours trade with all countries in their national currencies, rather than the dollar, but the idea needed detailed work before being implemented, the Kremlin said.

Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, the world’s top palladium producer, said on Wednesday it was discussing the possibility of settling payments in roubles with foreign customers that had signalled their readiness for such an arrangement.

Russian miner Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds in carat terms, also said on Wednesday it was testing a mechanism to settle payments in Russia’s currency.

"By way of an experiment, such deals were completed with clients in China and India," the company said.

"Should the need arise, the company is ready to implement this rouble-based payments scheme in future," Alrosa said.

The Shanghai branch of Russia’s VTB bank facilitated Alrosa’s first rouble-based deal with a Chinese client.

"The ability to pay in roubles contributes to increasing the share of payments settled using national currencies in overall Russia-China trade," VTB’s first deputy CEO, Yuri Soloviev, said.

In July, the Moscow Exchange said it was launching more currency pairs, including trading the rouble against the pound, the Chinese yuan and the Turkish lira, facilitating trade in national currencies.

New US sanctions on Russia last week sent the rouble tumbling to its weakest since mid-2016, while earlier measures demonstrated the degree of Washington’s leverage over Russian firms.