Rio Tinto to invest $165 million in Quebec aluminum smelter renovation  

Usine smelter in Alma, Quebec. Reference image from Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) said on Tuesday it will invest C$226 million ($165 million) in its Grande-Baie smelter in Quebec, Canada.

The investment will be used to refurbish two anode baking furnaces that have reached the end of their useful life. The company will also carry out feasibility studies for the eventual replacement of the scrubbers and overhead bridge cranes at the anode production centre.

The work to rebuild the concrete shell and refractory lining of the anode baking furnaces will be carried out over two years, in 2025 and 2026, Rio said, adding that the new equipment will ensure a competitive supply of anodes to the Grande-Baie and Laterrière plants for decades to come.

The miner also said it will offset the carbon emissions related to the construction project through various initiatives like planting trees near the aluminum smelter.

‘‘The refurbishment of the Grande-Baie smelter’s anode baking furnaces is a major investment that will ensure the sustainability and competitiveness of responsible aluminum production in the region for decades to come and will generate significant economic benefits,” Rio’s Grande-Baie and Laterrière operations director Martin Lavoie said in the statement.

“We are very happy to be completing this project over the next years in collaboration with our employees and local business partners.”

Most of the economic benefits associated with the project will be generated in Quebec. At the peak of the project, about 185 workers should be on site, Rio said.

Rio Tinto completed the replacement of its anode baking furnaces at the Alma aluminum smelter in 2021.