The owner of the Russian company that owns Aughinish Alumina in Co Limerick has been named on a sanctions list by the United States.

UC Rusal, which is part owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, is the second biggest aluminium producer in the world.

The news caused shares in UC Rusal, the parent company of Aughinish, to fall to record lows, leaving the 450 people who work at the plant in Askeaton concerned for its future.

Aughinish Alumina was bought by UC Rusal in 2007. It refines imported bauxite into alumina which is a major ingredient in the manufacturing of aluminium.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys has spoken to the CEO of the plant, and the situation is being kept under review by the department and the IDA.

A statement from the department said, "Ultimately this is a global situation that is extremely fluid and continues to develop".

The United States announced the sanctions on Russian oligarchs and top government officials a week ago, in a move that targets Russian President Vladimir Putin’s associates for "malign activity" including meddling in the US presidential election in 2016.

Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said, "The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites. Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilising activities."

Analysts believes an example is being made of Mr Deripaska, who is not part of Mr Putin's inner circle, because his business is unpopular with US President Donald Trump's administration.