Rio Tinto clears major hurdle for US$2 billion Kitimat smelter modernisation in British Columbia

    LONDON, UK, Jan. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Rio Tinto's US$2 billion project to
modernise its Kitimat smelter in British Columbia, Canada, will be submitted
for Board approval following the decision by the British Columbia Utilities
Commission (BCUC) to accept the 2007 Energy Purchase Agreement (2007 EPA)
between Rio Tinto Alcan and BC Hydro.
    This is the last of three conditions necessary to be met for the project
to go ahead. The other two key conditions were the resolution of a long-term
labour agreement to ensure stability during the planning, the construction and
the start-up of the Modernisation Project (achieved May 2007), and assurances
on environmental permitting issues (achieved late December 2007)
    Jacynthe Côté, Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal President, said: "We are
very pleased with today's BCUC decision to accept the new power agreement
between Rio Tinto Alcan and BC Hydro. Final approval of the project will allow
us to stay on target to deliver first metal by 2012 and reduce greenhouse gas
emissions by half a million tonnes per year."
    The new power agreement provides that the Kitimat smelter's electricity
needs have priority over any other power sales. This will allow Rio Tinto
Alcan to adjust its power sales to BC Hydro depending on the final
configuration and power requirements of the modernised smelter.
    Once approved, the modernisation of Rio Tinto Alcan's Kitimat smelter
would increase Rio Tinto's annual global primary aluminium production capacity
by more than three per cent. This will make Kitimat not only one of Rio
Tinto's largest wholly-owned smelters, but also one of the three largest in
North America. Kitimat's aluminium production capacity would increase by
125,000 tonnes using clean and renewable hydroelectric power from the Rio
Tinto Alcan-owned Kemano power station.

    About Rio Tinto

    Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the
UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London 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; Media Relations,
US: Nancy Ives, Mobile: (619) 540-3751; Rio Tinto Alcan Media Relations,
Kitimat: Colleen Nyce, (250) 639-8760,; Rio Tinto Alcan
Media Relations, Montreal: Stefano Bertolli, (514) 848-8151,; 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; 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;;; High resolution
photographs available at:

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