Aluminium bicycles

Five reasons you should love aluminium as much as we do

We're passionate about producing this high-quality, groundbreaking material

Last updated: 9 September 2019


Maybe it's obvious, but at Rio Tinto, we love our aluminium. We love it like Quebec loves Céline, like Beyoncé loves JAY-Z, like Kanye loves Kanye. And given how cool it is – and strong, and lightweight – our time with aluminium has inspired plenty of #relationshipgoals. But don't just take our word for it.

Our secret ingredient is people like Rachel, who help us make some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. That makes our metal pretty special.

Lightweight, corrosion-free, infinitely recyclable and soon, made using carbon-free smelting technology. Used by Apple, Tesla, Boeing and NASA. This ain't your mother's aluminium (sorry, mom). Here are 5 reasons you should love it at least as much as we do.

1. It's everywhere

Did you drive to work? Maybe bike? Take the metro? If you're a billionaire – did you helicopter? Well then, you're an aluminium user.

But it doesn't stop there. The bridge you crossed on your way? Aluminium. The carton of juice in your fridge? Part aluminium. The fridge itself? Probably aluminium. In fact, if you're reading this on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you're using aluminium right now. When we say aluminium is everywhere, we mean everywhere. It makes modern life possible.

Elysis aluminium
ELYSIS ingots produced using the world's first carbon-free aluminium smelting process in Quebec

2. It's low-carbon (well, ours is, anyway)

There are some things the world just needs less of. Dead phone batteries, traffic jams, warm soda. We could go on. Carbon dioxide is definitely on the list. That's why we love RenewAl aluminium. Its carbon footprint is about three times lower than the industry average. And Rio Tinto's aluminium was the first ever to get certified by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative as "responsible". We had to meet strict criteria for production, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, and biodiversity. This was followed by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative's first Chain of Custody certification, allowing customers to buy aluminium from Rio Tinto they know meets the highest standards.

And if that weren't enough, in the near future we aim to free the smelting process that creates aluminium of direct greenhouse gas emissions. Remember one word: ELYSIS. It's a new joint venture between Rio Tinto and Alcoa, with support from Apple and the Canadian and Quebec governments. And it's set to replace greenhouse gas emissions from smelting with pure oxygen. Plus, it produces more metal.

More aluminium, less energy, no greenhouse gases, all right here in Canada: now that's innovation we can all be proud of.

Aluminium cans
The aluminium in these cans may one day end up in cars

3. You can recycle it over and over

That's right. In fact, recycled aluminium can be used for completely different things – cans to cars – without having to change the metal in any way. It's so efficient that 90 per cent of all aluminium used in both the automotive and construction industry is made from completely recycled sources. Pretty cool.

Aluminium in cars
Cars using aluminium can give you better fuel efficiency and performance

4. It can help your car use less gas – and help trucks carry more payload

When it comes to fuel efficiency, aluminium can give you more bang for your buck and more drive for your dollar. Being lighter also means that cars that use aluminium can speed up and stop faster: better performance.

And if you drive an aluminum-intensive Class 8 truck in the US, aluminium can let you carry 6.5 per cent more payload on every trip – and since it's corrosion resistant, it also reduces maintenance costs. That's a big ten-four. 

Saguenay region landscape
The Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region in Quebec, Canada

5. Ours is born in Canada, made in BC and Quebec

Rio Tinto has aluminium roots in Canada that stretch back 120 years. Just one of our smelters in Arvida, Quebec supplied most of the Allied forces' aluminium in World War II, and today, we make metal used in Budweiser beer cans, as well as Tesla and Ford cars. We've won awards, like the Canadian-American Business Council's Corporate Leadership Award (that would be for our smelter in Kitimat, BC).

The combination of clean, Canadian hydropower and leading edge technology lets us make aluminium with one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. And we're still going strong: the C$250 million we are investing in our alumina refinery (aluminium is made from alumina) Vaudreuil is supporting more than 1,000 jobs in Saguenay.

Aluminium produced at our Alma smelter, Quebec
Aluminium produced at our Alma smelter, Quebec

Any way you look at it, you just have to say that Rio Tinto aluminium is a metal that just keeps on giving. And BONUS: it's pretty.

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