Canada’s Rio Tinto Alcan has opened discussions with the Algerian government regarding the construction of an aluminium smelter, according to Canadian news reports.

Stefano Bertolli, a spokesman from the company, is quoted as saying that Rio Tinto Alcan is looking at the prospect of developing an aluminium plant in the gas-rich North African state.

He added that most projects of that nature start with an initial capacity of 460,000 tonnes-a-year (t/y), which can then be doubled by initiating a second phase. However, Bertolli stressed that talks were in the early stages.

Rio Tinto Alcan, a subsidiary of the UK/Australian resources giant Rio Tinto, declined to comment further when contacted by email.

The project is totally unconnected to the $5bn Beni Saf Aluminium Smelter project currently being planned by the UAE-based Emirates Aluminium (Emal) and the Algerian state-owned Sonatrach.

When completed Beni Saf will have a capacity of 500,000-t/y, with the aim of increasing capacity to 1.5 million-t/y over three phases.