Rio Tinto Alcan steps up partnerships with universities and invests $3
million in new cooperative research and development projects

JONQUIÈRE, QC, April 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Rio Tinto Alcan will contribute $3 million to five cooperative research and development projects in Quebec.

"These cooperative research and development partnerships demonstrate the importance of collaboration between universities, public agencies, and private enterprise. They also show Rio Tinto Alcan's commitment to research and development in Quebec," said Jean Simon, president, Primary Metal - North America, Rio Tinto Alcan. "These joint efforts will contribute to training young scientists and ensuring that we have a new generation of highly specialised staff, which Quebec society and major corporations need to be able to rely on as they pursue their development."

Set up jointly by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Rio Tinto Alcan, the projects will be run by the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, the Université de Sherbrooke, and the École Polytechnique (Université de Montréal). Four projects will be directly linked to the study and improvement of various aspects of the electrolysis process (the Hall-Héroult process), while the fifth will focus on carbon stores in the boreal forest.

In addition to training specialised technical staff, all of the research projects are designed to extend the lifespan or boost the productivity of electrolytic cells, reduce energy consumption, and reduce the environmental impact of operations in the aluminium industry.

"NSERC has recently implemented its new partnership and innovation strategy, a concrete action plan that will accelerate innovation in Canada by helping businesses of all sizes and from all sectors to gain the competitive advantage that they need to excel," said Suzanne Fortier, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. "This collaborative research and development program is one of the selected means of realising this strategy and we are happy to have the participation of Rio Tinto Alcan."

"Through these new partnerships, Rio Tinto Alcan and its Arvida Research and Development Centre are confirming their commitment to pursue research in Quebec. These projects will make a direct contribution to the growth of our research and development programs and consolidate our leadership position in technology for the aluminium industry," added Claude Vanvoren, vice president, Technology, Research and Development, Rio Tinto Alcan.

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.

SOURCE Rio Tinto Alcan

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

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Rio Tinto Alcan

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