Rio Tinto Promises Carbon-Free Smelting Technology At Tiwai Point

Rio Tinto Promises Carbon-Free Smelting Technology At Tiwai Point

New Zealand’s Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter is in line to possibly become the world’s first carbon-free aluminium smelter after a productive discussion between the heads of Rio Tinto Group and the New Zealand government last week.

A Kiwi news source says Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussed the matter at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, which ended on Friday.

“We had a very productive meeting with Prime Minister Ardern to discuss how the carbon-free smelting technology we are testing could further strengthen New Zealand’s aluminium industry, particularly in a carbon constrained world.

“We committed to work together to make Tiwai Point safer, more productive and sustainable so it can continue to provide benefits to the community and wider economy,” revealed Jacques.

The smelter would be based upon technology developed by Elysis, a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Alcoa Corporation. Brought to life last spring, Elysis boasts a smelting technique that produces no direct greenhouse gases – instead, the process makes oxygen as a byproduct. Per the firm, the new technology will be ready for sale in five years.

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) chief executive and site general manager Stew Hamilton said that the meeting portended nothing but good things for the smelter.

“During her recent visit to Tiwai, the Prime Minister asked us to keep representing New Zealand on the world stage, so it was great she found the time to connect with our global chief executive in Davos.”

“As Tiwai’s majority owner, Rio Tinto is setting a direction around mining the resources we need for a low carbon future,” continued Hamilton. “This is very aligned with our government’s direction and as we produce some of the lowest carbon and highest purity aluminium in the world the team at Tiwai is ready to play an important role in that low carbon future.”