Rio Tinto Alcan inaugurates breakthrough US$225 million potlining treatment pilot plant in Quebec



    MONTREAL, June 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Rio Tinto Alcan officially inaugurated
its newly commissioned pilot plant for the treatment of spent potlining, in
Saguenay, Quebec. The event was attended by over 200 representatives of the
regional community, government officials, employees and management.
    "I am delighted to help celebrate the inauguration of this leading-edge
facility for treating spent potlining," said Tom Albanese chief executive
officer of Rio Tinto. "This investment and others we are making here will
yield sustainable benefits for both Rio Tinto and the region, while securing
Quebec's position at the crossroads of the global aluminium industry."
    "Rio Tinto Alcan prides itself on having developed an environmentally
sustainable, innovative and economically competitive solution for treating
spent potlining that may well become the industry standard," said Dick Evans,
chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan. "The process not only renders the material
inert, it also enables us to reuse some of the by-products within our alumina
refining operations. In collaboration with our partners, we will continue our
research aimed at the full recycling of by-products generated by the smelting
process."
    "The start-up has been progressing well since April, respecting the
initial timetable," added Jacynthe Côté, president and chief executive officer
of the Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal business unit. "We are very proud of this
accomplishment and are encouraged to have the breakthrough technology fully
and safely operational. This project has been possible thanks to the
tremendous effort of Rio Tinto Alcan Research and Development. Today we
celebrate the ingenuity of our people who helped make this unique,
industrial-scale process a reality. We are also grateful for the financial
support of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and in
particular, the Technology Partnerships Canada program."
    The plant uses an exclusive technology that allows it to treat about
80,000 tonnes of spent potlining per year. Developed by Rio Tinto Alcan's
Arvida Research and Development Centre (ARDC), the technology will also enable
the plant to treat potlining from other Quebec aluminium producers. The
facility creates 50 new jobs.

    Spent potlining is a material that is removed periodically from the
electrolytic cells used to produce aluminium. It is made up of carbon and
other products, and is normally pre-treated before being disposed of in highly
controlled conditions. The new process renders the spent potlining completely
inert and provides the global aluminium industry with a sustainable solution.

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

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