Rio Tinto Alcan AP-Xe aluminium smelting technology to offer up to 20% reduction in energy consumption



    MONTREAL, March 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Rio Tinto Alcan announced today at the
TMS 2008 Conference in New Orleans, USA that it has begun development on the
next generation of its AP Technology series. To be called AP-Xe, this new
technology could potentially lead to a step change in energy consumption of up
to 20% along with a reduced environmental impact and improved full economic
cost.
    "In a world increasingly concerned with climate change and the
environmental impact of industrial growth, this new technology promises a
potential breakthrough. The development of a greener, more energy efficient
production process, combined with aluminium's well-established attributes such
as light weight and recyclability, makes for a winning combination," stated
Jacynthe Côté, president, Primary Metal, Rio Tinto Alcan. "The AP-Xe will
provide us with the technology we need for future generations of greenfield
and brownfield expansions," she added.
    AP-Xe will be developed in phases, including a potentially workable
"drained cathode" that, taken together with other portfolio technologies under
development, could result in a lowering of unit energy consumption by up to
20%. This technology is designed to be retrofitted to previous AP series
cells. While the maximum energy consumption savings are expected from
greenfield applications, significant savings could also be achieved in
retrofitted cells.
    Drained cathode cells are already under test on an industrial scale and
the immediate next phase will be the progressive start-up of a 10-cell AP30
test section at Rio Tinto Alcan's site in St-Jean-de-Maurienne, France. If
successful, an industrial scale-up of this aluminium technology could begin
within five years.
    "While we continue to develop and improve our highly successful and
environmentally responsible AP30 aluminium technology platform, and move
forward with the recently announced pilot for AP50 in Quebec, Canada, we are
devoting a large portion of our R&D to the development of future generations
of our AP Technology," continued Côté.
    This new initiative will be supported by Rio Tinto Alcan's global
technology and R&D network. "The goal of this AP-Xe aluminium technology is to
significantly reduce and eventually eliminate emissions while achieving a step
change in energy consumption," stated Don Macmillan, vice president,
Technology and Operational Excellence, Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal. "With
the first metal from the AP50 pilot plant project expected in Quebec in 2010,
we are also looking beyond this to the first AP-Xe proof-of-concept cells to
be built at our centre in St-Jean-de-Maurienne, where initial work is already
underway", added Mr. Macmillan.
    This AP-Xe development clearly manifests Rio Tinto Alcan's intention to
maintain its leadership in aluminium technology. With approximately seven and
a half thousand AP Technology cells in operation around the world today,
representing some six million tons of installed capacity, AP Technology is a
global leader. Facilities reaching close to a million more tons are under
construction with, in addition, several million tons in various stages of
evaluation, either internal to Rio Tinto Alcan or with potential partners or
licensees.

    About Rio Tinto

    Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the
UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto
Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
    Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral
resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and
uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and
iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia
and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe
and southern Africa.

    Forward-Looking Statements

    This announcement includes "forward-looking statements" within the
meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section
21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other
than statements of historical facts included in this announcement, including,
without limitation, those regarding Rio Tinto's financial position, business
strategy, plans and objectives of management for future operations (including
development plans and objectives relating to Rio Tinto's products and
production forecasts), are forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking
statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors
which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Rio Tinto,
or industry results, to be materially different from any future results,
performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking
statements.
    Such forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions
regarding Rio Tinto's present and future business strategies and the
environment in which Rio Tinto will operate in the future. Among the important
factors that could cause Rio Tinto's actual results, performance or
achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements
include, among others, levels of actual production during any period, levels
of demand and market prices, the ability to produce and transport products
profitably, the impact of foreign currency exchange rates on market prices and
operating costs, operational problems, political uncertainty and economic
conditions in relevant areas of the world, the actions of competitors,
activities by governmental authorities such as changes in taxation or
regulation and such other risk factors identified in Rio Tinto's most recent
Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the United States Securities and
Exchange Commission (the "SEC") or Form 6-Ks furnished to the SEC.
Forward-looking statements should, therefore, be construed in light of such
risk factors and undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking
statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this
announcement. Rio Tinto expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking
(except as required by applicable law, the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers
(the "Takeover Code"), the UK Listing Rules, the Disclosure and Transparency
Rules of the Financial Services Authority and the Listing Rules of the
Australian Securities Exchange) to release publicly any updates or revisions
to any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in Rio
Tinto's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions
or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
    Nothing in this announcement should be interpreted to mean that future
earnings per share of Rio Tinto plc or Rio Tinto Limited will necessarily
match or exceed its historical published earnings per share.
    Subject to the requirements of the Takeover Code, none of Rio Tinto, any
of its officers or any person named in this announcement with their consent or
any person involved in the preparation of this announcement makes any
representation or warranty (either express or implied) or gives any assurance
that the implied values, anticipated results, performance or achievements
expressed or implied in forward-looking statements contained in this
announcement will be achieved.




For further information:

For further information: Media Relations, London: Christina Mills,
Office: +44 (0) 20 7781 1154, Mobile: +44 (0) 7825 275 605; Nick Cobban,
Office: +44 (0) 20 7781 1138, Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 041 003; Rio Tinto Alcan
Media Relations, Canada: Stefano Bertolli, Tel.: +1-514-848-8151,
stefano.bertolli@alcan.com; Media Relations, US: Nancy Ives, Mobile: +1 619
540 3751; Media Relations, Australia: Ian Head, Office: +61 (0) 3 9283 3620,
Mobile: +61 (0) 408 360 101; Amanda Buckley, Office: +61 (0) 3 9283 3627,
Mobile: +61 (0) 419 801 349; Rio Tinto Alcan Media Relations, Paris: Chrystele
Ivins, Tel.: +33-1-57-00-24-18, chrystele.ivins@alcan.com; Investor Relations,
London: Nigel Jones, Office: +44 (0) 20 7753 2401, Mobile: +44 (0) 7917 227
365; David Ovington, Office: +44 (0) 20 7753 2326, Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 010
978; Investor Relations, North America: Jason Combes, Office: +1 (0) 801 685
4535, Mobile: +1 (0) 801 558 2645; Investor Relations, Australia: Dave
Skinner, Office: +61 (0) 3 9283 3628, Mobile: +61 (0) 408 335 309; Simon
Ellinor, Office:+ 61 (0) 7 3867 1068; questions@riotinto.com; Websites:
www.riotinto.com, www.riotinto.com/riotintoalcan

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