Our Regional Economic Development (RED) team helps local partners in four areas: aluminium innovation, decarbonisation, circular economy and digital shift.
From 2004, through RED, we invested C$100 million in Québec in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean. Stobia is one example of a start-up that the RED team has supported. The business was developed by an entrepreneur who noticed market instability impacting the supply of aluminum food packaging products. Since December 2020, they are now the only manufacturer of food packaging in Quebec. The RED team has also invested nearly $280,000 over the past five years to support A3 Surfaces, in addition to providing technical and research and development support.
We invest in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean in other ways.
For example, the Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund contributes to the region's non-profit organisations in five areas: First Nations, education, environment, health and well-being, and community. We partner with AlloProf to improve education in communities across Québec, an initiative that offers interactive study sessions to 400,000 students in the province. And CRÉPAS (Conseil régional de prévention de l'abandon scolaire du Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean), which the Fund also supports, works with teachers and educators to help young people throughout their journey to graduation.
Our business also plays an important role in the region’s economy. For example, we are investing C$250 million to extend the life of our Vaudreuil refinery, using industry-leading filter press technology and dry stacking to ensure it can continue to supply our aluminium smelting operations, support more than 1,000 jobs and generate significant economic benefits for the region. At our Arvida smelter, we are extending operations beyond 2020 with an investment of C$200 million. And at Alma, we are investing C$209 million to better position it to meet the demands of the future.
Helping small businesses grow
In Quebec, we have invested $650,000 to help Letenda grow, an organisation focusing on sustainable public transport solutions.
Since 2017, Rio Tinto’s RED team has been a proud partner of Letenda. With our investment, we have actively helped Letenda develop Electrip: a new generation of zero-emission electric city buses designed entirely in Quebec. It’s a project that aligns well with our focus on sustainability – combining public transport, low carbon footprint materials and renewable energy. We are proud to support small businesses like Letenda develop new innovative solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec.