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Rio Tinto launches project to develop AP44 technology

June 16, 2015  By Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto will launch a C$12 million project aimed at enhancing the aluminium smelting technology currently employed at several of the company’s plants to drive productivity gains. The project will be conducted by Rio Tinto’s aluminium technology teams at the Arvida Research and Development Centre in Saguenay, Quebec and Voreppe, France and will be tested at the Alma aluminium smelter in Quebec’s Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region.

Arnaud Soirat, president and chief executive officer, Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal said “This project demonstrates how our leading technology position supports our business through innovative and cost-effective solutions to drive performance enhancements. Rio Tinto operates the aluminium industry’s largest, most modern, most competitive fleet of smelters and we are determined to continue to improve this position, for our customers, employees, communities and shareholders.

“This first-of-its-kind project is particularly significant for the Alma plant. The determination and operational expertise exhibited by employees, and continued environmental and operational performance made the Alma plant the ideal location to test this new technology.”

This research and development project will be focused on converting Rio Tinto’s AP30 series smelting technology used at the Alma plant to the AP44 series which would enhance productivity and performance while reducing operational costs and strengthening our position as a supplier of aluminium with a low-carbon footprint. Five aluminium reduction cells at the Alma smelter will test the AP44 technology. The project is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.


The enhanced performance that is expected to be achieved through this conversion from the AP30 technology to AP44 is achieved mainly through an increase to the amperage level in the Alma plant’s aluminium reduction cells during the electrolysis, or smelting process.

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