Major Rio Tinto Alcan investment in Scottish Highlands
Rio Tinto Alcan has announced a £45 (US$90) million investments in the modernization of its Lochaber plant, in Scotland, to begin in 2009 and be completed by 2012.The modernization project will see new hydroelectric turbo-generators installed to power the smelter, ensuring the increased use of clean renewable energy for aluminium production at the plant. Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal President, Jacynthe Côté said: "The £45 million investment to power our Lochaber plant not only secures its future, but shows our commitment to improving energy efficiency, increasing our usage of fully renewable energy and in turn, our levels of production." "36% of our smelter energy needs are met by clean, self-generated hydroelectricity, a tremendous competitive advantage," she said.The existing hydro generators at the Lochaber aluminium plant have been in use since their installation in 1929. The new modern hydroelectric generators will have an enhanced capacity to generate the electricity the plant needs, as well as the potential to generate additional power. As a result of the increased power generation, it is expected that aluminium production at Lochaber will increase from 43,000 tonnes per year to 50,000 tonnes per year.Alcan Aluminium UK Managing Director, Wyn Jones said: "Making aluminium with hydroelectricity has been a vital part of the Highlands economy for over 100 years, with generations of families having worked in the industry, so we're delighted to confirm a long-term and sustainable future for the plant today."The Rio Tinto Alcan plant in Lochaber contributes over £8 million a year to the Highlands economy and employs 180 people, making it one of the Highlands' largest private sector employers. John Hutton, Secretary of State, Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, welcomed the announcement of the further investment in Rio Tinto Alcan's Lochaber aluminium smelter. “I am aware of the importance of the smelter to the region and the investment will also make a valuable contribution to helping us meet our renewable energy targets," Mr Hutton said.Rio Tinto Alcan, created in November 2007, is the global leader in aluminium. It holds the number one position in bauxite and aluminium production and is a major producer of alumina.
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