Rio will expand in bauxite, cut costs in alumina, aluminium

Monday, Sep 23, 2013

Rio Tinto Alcan’s expansion plans are centred on its bauxite operations, while its focus in its alumina refining and aluminium smelting operations will remain on costs, Nigel Steward, senior vp of technology and supply chain said. ”In smelting and refining we are focused heavily on costs, and have a very active programme to cut costs,” Steward told delegates at Metal Bulletin’s 28th International Aluminium conference in Geneva on Wednesday September 18.

“We want to be in the first and second quartile of the cost curve, to make sure we can still remain profitable,” he added.

The company has sold or closed some 15 smelting and refining assets in recent years, most recently the Shawinigan smelter in Quebec, Canada, and the Lynemouth smelter in Northumberland, UK.

But Rio will be more aggressive in its bauxite operations, and is in the feasibility stage of expanding the life of its Weipa bauxite mine in Australia by up to 40 years.

“We’re very well placed, with high-quality bauxite in Australia,” Steward said. “We see strong demand for our bauxite from China and the Middle East.”

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