The miner expects to commission the expanded Canadian aluminum smelter in Q1 2025


Rio Tinto will add casting pit and furnaces to the casting centre of the Alma smelter. (Credit: Ferdinand Kozeluh from Pixabay)

Rio Tinto said that it is making an investment of $188m in its Alma smelter in Canada to boost the production capacity for low-carbon, high value aluminium billets by 202,000 metric tonnes.

According to the mining major, the existing casting centre at the smelter will be expanded to house new equipment, which include a casting pit and furnaces. This will enable a greater portion of the aluminium produced at the smelter to be converted to higher value billets, said Rio Tinto.

The Alma smelter is located in Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

Rio Tinto said that construction on the expansion project will commence in May 2023. This will be following the completion of detailed engineering and preliminary work.

The miner expects to commission the expanded smelter in Q1 2025.

Rio Tinto aluminium Atlantic operations managing director Sébastien Ross said: “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.”

Rio Tinto estimates the investment to create economic benefits of around $160m for Quebec. Nearly 40 new permanent jobs will be generated by the expansion project, while supporting the 770 existing jobs at the Alma smelter.

Quebec Economy and Innovation, and Regional Economic Development Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said: “In Quebec, we produce the greenest aluminum in the world. Modernisation 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.”