Rio Tinto is spending US$188 million to boost the capacity of its Alma smelter in Lac-Saint-Jean, Québec, for low-carbon, high-value aluminum billets by 202,000 metric tonnes.

The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area of Canada is an important center for Rio Tinto’s aluminum industry, accounting for about half of the company’s worldwide aluminum output. An alumina refinery, four totally owned smelters, six hydropower plants, the Arvida Research and Development Centre (ARDC), the Aluminum Operational Center, a rail network, and one port are among the enterprises in the region.

The refinery and smelters are completely powered by hydropower.

Rio Tinto’s Alma plant’s current casting center will be extended to accommodate additional equipment, such as a casting pit and furnaces, enabling a greater part of the aluminum produced to be turned to higher value billets. After completing thorough engineering and preparatory work, construction will commence in May 2023, with commissioning scheduled for the first quarter of 2025.

Over the next 10 years, global demand for aluminum extrusion goods is predicted to expand at a 3 percent annual rate, owing to the energy transition and decarbonization.

The investment will improve the North American supply chain and enable Rio Tinto to be more nimble and adaptable in order to support the essential expansion of North American manufacturers for a range of high-value-added goods, especially in the automotive and construction sectors.

Aluminium billets are extruded via a die, and the resultant profiles are used to manufacture a variety of goods like as automobile bumpers and roof rails, as well as doors and window frames.

The project is estimated to bring Québec over US$160 million in economic benefits. The initiative will provide around 40 new permanent employment while also supporting the 770 current positions at the Alma factory.

Source: Green Car Congress

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