Rio Tinto Alcan granted $175 million loan from the Government of Quebec to further construction of AP50 pilot project



    MONTREAL, May 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Rio Tinto Alcan has been granted a loan
from the Government of Quebec totalling up to $175 million to further the
construction of its AP50 pilot plant in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
    "This additional financial support from the Government of Quebec is
greatly appreciated and essential to the AP50 project," said Jacynthe Côté,
Chief executive, Rio Tinto Alcan. "We have seen a 60 per cent drop in the
price of aluminium, and a similar drop in alumina, since July 2008. This loan
allows us to continue developing our proven power-to-product solutions and
will help Rio Tinto Alcan maintain its strong position in Quebec for when
markets recover."
    The loan, repayable in full by 2012, will provide the AP50 project with
crucial funding to continue construction of the pilot plant at an adapted
pace, suited to the challenges of the current economic situation.
    "This is not only an important project for Rio Tinto Alcan, but an
investment in advancing Quebec's position as a global centre of expertise for
the aluminium industry," said Jean Simon, President, Primary Metal - North
America. "This pilot plant will use the most advanced aluminium smelting
technology in the world and will become a platform for future AP technology
development."
    The pilot plant is the first phase of the AP50 project, and will have 44
pots and an initial production of 60,000 tonnes of aluminium, powered
exclusively by clean, renewable hydroelectricity. AP50 technology operates at
an exceptional 500kA, and focuses on energy efficiency and total cost
reduction in the aluminium smelting process.
    Rio Tinto Alcan is currently facilitating development of a local network
of globally competitive suppliers for the AP50 project through its Regional
Industrial Development Office. The Arvida Research and Development Centre will
lead ongoing initiatives related to industrialisation of AP technology.
    Construction of a new 225 megawatt high-efficiency turbine at the
Shipshaw power station will continue as scheduled. Complete funding for the
US$228 million project was approved by Rio Tinto's Board of Directors last
October. The new turbine is expected to replace four hydro generator units at
the Chute-à-Caron power station and will thereby promote more efficient water
use.
    In December 2006, Rio Tinto Alcan unveiled a long-term industrial
strategy for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. Support for this program from
the Government of Quebec includes R&D tax incentives, energy and environmental
agreements, and a 30-year loan of $400 million, of which $165 million has been
granted.

    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.




For further information:

For further information: Rio Tinto Alcan Media Relations, Canada:
Stefano Bertolli, (514) 848-8151, stefano.bertolli@riotinto.com; Rio Tinto
Alcan Media Relations, Saguenay: Claudine Gagnon, (418) 699-4005,
claudine.gagnon@riotinto.com; www.riotintoalcan.com

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