The mining major plans to increase the casting capacity at its aluminium smelter in Alma, Quebec by 202,000 metric tonnes.
Additions to the billet casting centre will include "new state-of-the-art equipment such as furnaces, a casting pit, coolers, handling, inspection, sawing and packaging systems."
The project is budgeted to cost C$240 million (US$178.2M) and will facilitate the inclusion of hydropower in the production of aluminium and the subsequent billets.
"This expansion of our low carbon billet casting capacity in Quebec will allow us to better meet our customers' growing demand for high-quality alloys and value-added products made with renewable hydroelectricity," said Sébastien Ross, executive director of Rio Tinto Aluminium's Atlantic operations.
He continued: "We are pleased to have started construction this spring as planned and to be able to rely on the expertise of qualified employees, world-class Quebec equipment manufacturers and our partners to bring this project announced last year to fruition."
Billeting is one of the final steps in the aluminium production process. Once smelted, the aluminium is placed in a mould or form, and intense pressure is applied, allowing for the casting.
Aluminium billets are considered one of the most widely used aluminium products globally. According to Market Research Biz, The global aluminium billets market was valued at US$15.5 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow with a САGR of 4% by 2031.
Rio Tinto expects the billet expansion will be commissioned during the first six months of 2025.