Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Group said this week it plans a US$188 million expansion of low-carbon aluminium billet production at its Alma aluminium smelter in Quebec. The proposed expansion would boost the plant’s overall production by 202 thousand metric tons per annum.
Rio Tinto’s expansion at the Alma aluminium smelter will include a new cutting-edge casting pit and furnaces, which will enable the firm to boost its output of higher-value aluminium billet. Rio Tinto plans to begin construction next March, with an anticipated completion of the expansion of early 2025.
Sébastien Ross, Managing Director of Rio Tinto Aluminium’s Atlantic operations, said in a press release that the expansion is largely a response to customer demand.
“This expansion of our low carbon aluminium billet production capacity in Quebec will allow us to better meet our customer’s growing demand for high quality alloys and value-added products made with renewable hydroelectricity. This new capacity will help to strengthen the position of our Alma smelter and we are proud to work with our employees, clients, Quebec equipment manufacturers and partners to bring this much anticipated project to fruition.”
Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne noted the economic benefit to the area of the plant’s expansion.
“Today’s announcement shows the strength of Canada’s aluminum industry. Along with significant economic benefits, Rio Tinto’s investment will see more jobs and more growth in our country, while cementing Canada’s position as a global leader in the low carbon economy.”
Quebec Minister of Economy and Innovation, and Regional Economic Development Pierre Fitzgibbon said the region has become noted for its production of low-carbon aluminium.
“In Quebec, we produce the greenest aluminum in the world. Modernization projects such as this one will enable us to maintain our leadership position in this area and contribute to the growth of this strategic sector. We have always said that the environment can and must serve the economy. The Rio Tinto project is a perfect example.”
Rio Tinto expects that the addition will generate up to US$160 million in economic benefit for Quebec and add about 40 new jobs to the existing workforce of 770 at the plant.