British-Australian miner Rio Tinto is set to spend C$240 million ($188 million) to boost production of low-carbon aluminum billets at its Alma smelter in Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec, Canada .
As part of the plan to increase aluminum billet production by 202,000 metric tons, the company will increase the capacity of the existing casting center at its Alma plant.
The expanded casting center will accommodate new equipment, including furnaces and a casting pit, to enable the conversion of most of the aluminum into higher value billets.
This investment is expected to create 40 new permanent jobs while supporting the current 770 jobs at the Alma plant. It should also provide nearly $160 million in economic benefits for Quebec.
Rio Tinto plans to complete detailed engineering and preliminary work, after which construction will begin in May 2023. Commissioning is scheduled for the first quarter of 2025.
The company predicts that global demand for aluminum extrusion products will grow over the next ten years at an average of around 3% per year, aided by decarbonization and the energy transition.
In addition to strengthening the supply chain in North America, this investment should help Rio Tinto support the growing demand for high value-added products, mainly in the automotive and construction sectors.
Sébastien Ross, Chief Operating Officer of Rio Tinto Aluminum Atlantic, said: “This expansion of our low-carbon aluminum billet production capacity in Quebec will allow us to better meet our customers’ growing demand for high-quality alloys and value-added products made from renewable hydroelectricity. ”
Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, said: “In addition to significant economic benefits, Rio Tinto’s investment will create more jobs and growth in our country. while solidifying Canada’s position as a global leader in the low-carbon economy.