Rio Tinto starts BlueSmelting demonstration plant to validate decarbonisation technology

03 April 2023
SOREL-TRACY, Canada - Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium (RTIT) has started its BlueSmeltingTM demonstration plant at its metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy as part of the process to validate the BlueSmeltingTM technology, which aims to decarbonise RTIT's Quebec Operations. 
The BlueSmeltingTM project involves an ilmenite reduction technology that could generate 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than the current reduction process, enabling the production of titanium dioxide, steel and metal powders with a significantly lower carbon footprint. This innovative technology was developed by scientists at Rio Tinto's Critical Minerals and Technology Centre in Sorel-Tracy.
The project is part of a partnership between Rio Tinto and the Government of Canada to invest up to C$737 million (US$537 million) over the next eight years to decarbonise the Sorel-Tracy facility and to position the business as a centre of excellence in critical minerals processing.
RTIT Vice President Technology and Program Lead for Minerals Processing Decarbonisation Didier Arseguel said: “We are extremely proud to start the BlueSmeltingTM plant, which is a key component of Rio Tinto's decarbonisation strategy in Quebec. Thanks to the ongoing commitment of all the teams involved in this groundbreaking technology project, we have gone safely from concept to start-up in just 14 months.”
The project aims to reduce the consumption of coal in the processing of ilmenite ore. The demonstration plant can process up to 40,000 tonnes of ilmenite per year, making it the largest in the world based on this type of technology. 27 new jobs have been created to date to operate the new facility.
Notes to editors
The BlueSmeltingTM plant is part of Rio Tinto's decarbonisation strategy, which aims to reduce the company’s emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. If fully implemented, the BlueSmeltingTM project has the potential to deliver a reduction of up to 70% in RTIT Quebec Operations’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, a decrease of approximately 670,000 tCO2e based on 2021 emissions or the equivalent to removing 145,000 cars from the road.
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Category: RTFT