Rio Tinto Alcan alters role in Ma’aden aluminium project

MONTREAL, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ – Rio Tinto Alcan is revising its participation from an equity partner in the integrated aluminum “mine-to-metal” project in Saudi Arabia to the role of working with Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) towards project development through a smelter technology transfer agreement and a cooperation agreement.

“Going forward, our partnership will be one of cooperation rather than one of equity ownership,” said Dick Evans, Chief executive, Rio Tinto Alcan. “The recent global financial and economic crisis has changed Rio Tinto’s outlook for project development throughout the world and, under these circumstances, Rio Tinto Alcan has elected to not participate as an equity partner in this project.”

Rio Tinto Alcan is in discussions with Ma’aden to potentially provide technology support for the smelter project as well as general advice and support. A cooperation agreement will cover secondment of personnel, interim supply of alumina to the smelter, metal offtake, and other support activities.

Although Rio Tinto Alcan will not be an equity partner at this stage of the project, the parties have agreed to consider the possibility of future participation at a later date, as well as ongoing technical and commercial support.

Ma’aden is reviewing its position regarding project development options and expects to realise savings through scope changes and re-estimation of project costs.

About Ma’aden, Saudi Arabian Mining Company

Ma’aden was established as a Saudi Arabian joint stock company in March 1997 to facilitate the development of Saudi Arabia’s non-petroleum mineral resources and to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from the petroleum and petrochemical sectors. Ma’aden was fifty percent privatised in July 2008 and is engaged in the development, advancement and improvement of all aspects of the mineral industry, mineral products and by-products and related industries in Saudi Arabia.

About Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.

[Via http://www.prnewswire.com]

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