Malaysian government gives stamp of approval for SALCO smelter

    MONTREAL, March 14 /PRNewswire/ - Rio Tinto Alcan and Cahya Mata
 Sarawak Berhad (CMS)'s proposed US$2 billion (approximately RM7 billion)
 world-class aluminium smelter project in Similajau, in the state of
 Sarawak, has made significant progress with the granting of a manufacturing
 licence by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority.
 
     "This is a clear demonstration of the Malaysian federal government's
 confidence in the SALCO smelter project," stated Sandeep Biswas, senior
 vice president, business development, Rio Tinto Alcan. "The Federal
 Government's support, through the granting of the licence from the
 Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, is a recognition of the
 significant benefits the SALCO smelter can deliver for Malaysia and
 Sarawak."
 
     The proposed smelter will have a production capacity of 550,000 tonnes
 per year in its initial phase, with the capability to be expanded to 1.5
 million tonnes. It is expected to contribute up to RM2.4 billion annually
 to Malaysia's GDP, and could generate up to 4,700 direct and indirect jobs.
 
     CMS group managing director Dato' Richard Curtis, in thanking the
 federal government for its support said: "SALCO looks forward to working
 with both the federal and Sarawak state governments to develop a truly
 outstanding project. The Sarawak state government and its agencies have
 also played a significant role in the progress of the SALCO smelter
 project," he concluded.
 
     Rio Tinto Alcan and CMS signed a Heads of Agreement in August 2007 to
 commence feasibility studies for the development of the SALCO smelter. A
 detailed environmental impact assessment has commenced and international
 engineering consultant Bechtel has been appointed to undertake an
 engineering study. As well, in February 2008, Rio Tinto Alcan and CMS
 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sarawak Energy Behard to
 allow negotiations to commence on power for the smelter. The MoU was signed
 during the launch of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewal Energy (SCORE) in
 Bintulu.
 
     The Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) is an agency of
 the Malaysian government established to promote and coordinate industrial
 development. All companies engaged in manufacturing in Malaysia must obtain
 a manufacturing licence.
 
     About SALCO
 
     Sarawak Aluminium Company (SALCO), a joint-venture owned by Rio Tinto
 Alcan (60%) and Cahya Mata Sarawak (40%), is undertaking studies to develop
 an aluminium smelter in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. Rio Tinto Alcan,
 the new global leader in aluminium, owns bauxite mines, alumina refineries
 and aluminium smelters, and has extensive experience in the design,
 engineering, construction, commissioning and operation of world-class
 aluminium smelters. CMS is the largest conglomerate in Sarawak. Its
 operations span construction and property development, construction
 materials, road maintenance, financial services, trading, technology and
 education. For more information, please visit www.salco.com.my
 
     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.
 
     Forward-Looking Statements
 
     This announcement includes "forward-looking statements" within the
 meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and
 Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All
 statements other than statements of historical facts included in this
 announcement, including, without limitation, those regarding Rio Tinto's
 financial position, business strategy, plans and objectives of management
 for future operations (including development plans and objectives relating
 to Rio Tinto's products, production forecasts and reserve and resource
 positions), are forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements
 involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may
 cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Rio Tinto, or
 industry results, to be materially different from any future results,
 performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking
 statements.
 
     Such forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions
 regarding Rio Tinto's present and future business strategies and the
 environment in which Rio Tinto will operate in the future. Among the
 important factors that could cause Rio Tinto's actual results, performance
 or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking
 statements include, among others, levels of actual production during any
 period, levels of demand and market prices, the ability to produce and
 transport products profitably, the impact of foreign currency exchange
 rates on market prices and operating costs, operational problems, political
 uncertainty and economic conditions in relevant areas of the world, the
 actions of competitors, activities by governmental authorities such as
 changes in taxation or regulation and such other risk factors identified in
 Rio Tinto's most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the United
 States Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") or Form 6-Ks
 furnished to the SEC. Forward-looking statements should, therefore, be
 construed in light of such risk factors and undue reliance should not be
 placed on forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements
 speak only as of the date of this announcement. Rio Tinto expressly
 disclaims any obligation or undertaking (except as required by applicable
 law, the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the "Takeover Code"), the UK
 Listing Rules, the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the Financial
 Services Authority and the Listing Rules of the Australian Securities
 Exchange) to release publicly any updates or revisions to any
 forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in Rio
 Tinto's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events,
 conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
 
     Nothing in this announcement should be interpreted to mean that future
 earnings per share of Rio Tinto plc or Rio Tinto Limited will necessarily
 match or exceed its historical published earnings per share.
 
     Subject to the requirements of the Takeover Code, none of Rio Tinto,
 any of its officers or any person named in this announcement with their
 consent or any person involved in the preparation of this announcement
 makes any representation or warranty (either express or implied) or gives
 any assurance that the implied values, anticipated results, performance or
 achievements expressed or implied in forward-looking statements contained
 in this announcement will be achieved.
 
 
 

SOURCE RIO TINTO ALCAN - EN

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