In an effort at transitioning its aluminium business to capitalize on the coming low-carbon economy, Rio Tinto Group said last Friday that it is negotiating with Apple on a project to commercialize a process for smelting aluminium that emits only oxygen as a byproduct.
Commenting at the commissioning of bauxite mining operations at Amrun, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said the move is a recognition of, among other things, an increasing demand by customers for low-carbon materials.
“At the end of the day, what we can see is the customers of our customers want to have full traceability on their products, and they want to make sure they have a carbon-friendly product,” explained Jacques.
“The technology that we are developing is – instead of using the carbon anodes – is to use an anode made of ceramic so you would not consume any carbon, and you would not release any CO2 into the atmosphere.”
He continued by saying that Rio Tinto is modifying its aluminium production business to increase supply chain transparency and lower emissions. The company is working toward substantial decarbonization by 2050, Jacques explained.
“We are looking at the next wave of partnership with Apple,” Rio Tinto’s top man said. However, he did not elaborate further.
Should the process prove to be a commercial success, Rio Tinto will deploy the technology across the entirety of its aluminium operation, said Jacques.
In addition to ensuring sustainable production, Jacques pointed out that the Amrun site is also a testbed for its push to have its sites certified as operated in cooperation and with approval of the local indigenous peoples.
“(We will show) that Amrun is part of the supply chain, so we can demonstrate from the bauxite to the aluminum in your iPhone or in your laptop, we fully understand the entire chain and that is consistent with what customers like Apple want,” he said.