OPINION: Quebec has a lot riding on Rio Tinto’s green-aluminum project – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – April 24, 2024)


Since Rio Tinto bought Canada’s Alcan in 2007, the Anglo-Australian mining giant has been good at making big promises, but slow to fulfill them. This is especially proving to be the case with its plan to produce zero-carbon aluminum.

The Quebec aluminum operations that Alcan built up over more than 80 years until its US$40-billion takeover by Rio Tinto remain among the world’s most profitable. Rio’s eight wholly and jointly owned smelters in the province mostly rely on cheap and emissions-free hydroelectric power from dams that Alcan itself built, providing a competitive and environmental advantage over U.S., Chinese and Russian rivals that use coal-based electricity.

And the additional power that Rio Tinto and its partners buy from Hydro-Québec is sold at a discount to market prices.

Yet, Rio Tinto has dragged its feet on promises to invest in its Quebec aluminum operations. Last year, after years of punting a decision, Rio Tinto finally announced plans to replace its highly polluting 98-year-old Arvida smelter in Saguenay, Que., with a more modern $1.4-billion facility by 2028.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-quebec-has-a-lot-riding-on-rio-tintos-green-aluminum-project/