Rio to supply its first export green aluminium – the green future is here

By Peter Roberts

The green industry dam is burst – after years if not decades of talk that Australia’s minerals will one day have to go green to survive in a world where trade favours green production, Australian company Rio has received its first big international green order.

Aluminium producer Rio Tinto has been contracted by Japanese trading house Maurbeni to supply a sustainable and reliable supply of Rio Tinto’s Responsible Aluminium products to Japanese downstream manufacturers.

As part of a new strategic Collaboration Agreement to secure green aluminium the first sale is of a batch of Rio Tinto’s RenewAlTM high purity aluminium, from the renewably powered New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS), to a major Japanese motorcycle manufacturer committed to reducing carbon emissions throughout its supply chains and manufacturing process.

While the sale will be for New Zealand produced aluminium, the sale puts on notice Rio’s and other companies metal smelters that the days of using coal or gas-fired electricity are coming to an end.

Rio operates Queensland’s largest aluminum smelter at Boyne Island.

The future is for green-powered metals and no Australian materials supplier can afford to ignore where the market is heading whether it be for green minerals, or green metals and manufactures.

Companies including Boral and Adbri, as well as lithium producer Pilbara Minerals and iron ore miner Fortescue are already adopting new technologies that will cut their lime and cement emissions – but many are still in the evaluation and talking stages.

The agreement, described by the companies as the first of its kind in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, is focused on providing downstream industry with a simple, integrated way to achieve ESG-related goals and requirements, such as reducing carbon footprints, disclosing lifecycle assessment (LCA), and sourcing responsibly.

It will also provide strong long-term security of supply at a time of growing supply-chain risks.

It combines Rio Tinto’s suite of Responsible Aluminium products – which include RenewAlTM, the industry’s first certified low carbon aluminium, Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) certified aluminium, and the digital traceability platform START – with Marubeni’s extensive trading network, commercial capability and carbon credit mechanism, Neutr-AlTM, which will be offered as part of the collaboration.

Rio Tinto Head of Sales & Marketing Tolga Egrilmezer said: “We are excited to be a part of the first producer-trading house marketing partnership focused on delivering sustainability throughout the aluminium supply chain.

“Consumers want to know more about the products they buy and be assured that they have been produced responsibly and sustainably.

“By working with partners like Marubeni, we can help our downstream customers in the aluminium value chain meet this growing consumer demand, while at the same time advancing our commitment to decarbonise our product value chains.”

Marubeni Chief Operating Officer, Metals & Mineral Resources Division Daisuke Tsuchiya said: “Marubeni’s Mid-Term Management Strategy GC 2024 positions green strategy as a fundamental platform to enhance corporate value.

“Aluminium-related business is an area of focus within this green strategy to enable a transition to a decarbonised society.

“Through this collaboration, Marubeni will contribute to creating a decarbonised society by supplying responsible aluminium, produced by Rio Tinto, to various customers through Marubeni’s interface, which has been built up over through the company’s many years of aluminium trading.”

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Picture: New Zealand Aluminium Smelters /Tiwai Point smelter

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