Rio Tinto said it plans to invest $1.1 billion to expand its state-of-the-art AP60 aluminum smelter equipped with low-carbon technology at Complexe Jonquière in Canada. The total investment includes up to $113 million of financial support from the Quebec government. This expansion, which will coincide with the gradual closure of potrooms at the Arvida smelter on the same site, will enable Rio Tinto to continue meeting customers’ demand for low-carbon, high-quality aluminum for use in transportation, construction, electrical and consumer goods.

“This investment is aligned with our strategy to decarbonize our value chains and grow in materials essential for the energy transition,” Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said. “Our AP60 technology is already proven and producing some of the lowest carbon aluminum in the world, thanks to the expertise of our highly qualified workforce and access to renewable hydropower. This is the most significant investment in our aluminum business for more than a decade and it will further strengthen Rio Tinto’s high-quality and low-carbon offering to our customers as they also work to reduce their own carbon footprint.”

The investment will add 96 new AP60 pots, increasing capacity by approximately 160,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of primary aluminum, enough for 400,000 electric cars. As a result, there will be a total of 134 AP60 pots and a capacity of approximately 220,000 mt/y. Construction will run over two and a half years, with commissioning of the new pots expected to start in the first half of 2026 and the smelter fully ramped up by the end of 2026. Once completed, Rio Tinto said the expanded smelter is expected to be in the first quartile of the industry cost curve.

This new capacity will offset the 170,000 mt of capacity lost through the gradual closure of potrooms at the Arvida smelter from 2024. In addition, Rio Tinto will add 30,000 mt/y of new capacity through the commissioning of the previously announced recycling facility at Arvida in the first quarter of 2025. These facilities will ensure Rio Tinto’s casting facilities at Complexe Jonquière continue to provide value-added products that meet customers’ needs, including integrating recycled post-consumer aluminum into primary aluminum alloys.

The AP60 smelting technology was developed by Rio Tinto’s Research and Development teams and is amongst the most efficient and lowest carbon technology currently available at commercial scale. When combined with the hydropower used at Rio Tinto’s operations in Canada, it generates one-seventh of greenhouse gases per ton of aluminum when compared with the industry average, and half the emissions when compared to the technology currently used at the Arvida smelter.