Canadian Manufacturing

Rio Tinto to test new smelting process at Alma facility

The $12-million project will focus on converting the current smelting process to one with a higher amperage level

MONTREAL—Rio Tinto will launch a $12 million project aimed at enhancing the aluminium smelting technology currently employed at several of the company’s plants to drive productivity gains.

The project will be conducted by Rio Tinto’s aluminium technology teams at the Arvida Research and Development Centre in Saguenay, Quebec and Voreppe, France and will be tested at the Alma aluminium smelter in Quebec’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.

“This first-of-its-kind project is particularly significant for the Alma plant. The determination and operational expertise exhibited by employees, and continued environmental and operational performance made the Alma plant the ideal location to test this new technology,” said Arnaud Soirat, president and chief executive officer at Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal.

This research and development project will be focused on converting Rio Tinto’s AP30 series smelting technology at the Alma plant to the AP44 series, which would enhance productivity and performance while reducing operational costs and strengthening our position as a supplier of aluminium with a low-carbon footprint. Five aluminium reduction cells at the Alma smelter will test the AP44 technology. The project is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.

The AP$$ process will increase to the amperage level in the Alma plant’s aluminium reduction cells during the electrolysis, or smelting process, which is expected to enhance efficiency.

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