Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Group will invest US$87 million at its Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean aluminium smelter to boost its low-carbon aluminium output. The investment will come in the form of sixteen new low-carbon aluminium smelting cells at the AP60 smelter.
The sixteen new cells will boost the plant’s nameplate capacity by 26.5 thousand metric tons per annum (or about 45 percent) to 86.5 thousand metric tons per annum. The new pots will be installed alongside the AP60 technology center and its 38 existing pots. Installation will begin next spring, and the date of completion is expected to be by the end of 2023.
Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Ivan Vella said in a press release that the move was done in response to rising demand.
“Rio Tinto is committed to strengthening its position as a leader in low-carbon, hydro-powered aluminium production to meet the clear demand from our customers in North America and Europe. Our AP60 technology is one of the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective systems in commercial production today. It produces some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium with renewable hydropower here in Quebec. We are assessing options for further investments, as we progress development of the ELYSIS™ zero carbon smelting technology with our partners.”
The low-carbon technology used at AP60 was developed in-house by Rio Tinto. This technology produces up to seven times less CO2 than conventional aluminium smelting technology. From its installation in 2013 to the present, the installed low-carbon equipment has produced over 465 thousand metric tons of low-carbon aluminium.