AluNews - December 2014

Jamaica to Resume Mining Bauxite in 2015

Latin American Herald Tribune - December 26th 2014

Mining activity connected to the Alpart bauxite/alumina plant will resume in January with the goal of extracting and exporting up to 2 million tons of raw bauxite during the next 18 months, the Jamaican government said.

The Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, announced the signing of an agreement with Russian aluminum company UC Rusal to restart mining.

"The new deal represents an expression of the government's commitment to ensure that the full potential of the bauxite/alumina industry is realized in the shortest possible time," Paulwell said.

UC Rusal will invest $400 million to modernize the Alpart plant and to fund infrastructure and transportation improvements, the minister said.

The refinery is scheduled to re-open in December 2016 with an annual production capacity of 1.65 million tons of smelter-grade alumina, Paulwell said.

Steel: End-use plants hit by raw material shortage in Odisha

Business Standard - December 25th 2014

With mega industries, mainly steel units facing acute shortage of raw materials, the Odisha government has taken steps to tackle the problem by augmenting mineral production.

While steel plants have highlighted their inability to fully utilise their installed capacities due to severe raw material shortage, government's revenue earnings from mining sector has declined, Odisha's Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick said today.

"We are taking necessary steps to ensure availability of adequate raw materials for the industries and meet the target of Rs 6,500 crore revenue from mining set for the current fiscal which at present shows a shortfall of around Rs 1,200 crore," Mallick said.

Stating that he held a meeting earlier this week as part of efforts to solve the problem pertaining to raw material, the Minister said 33 steel companies with whom state government had signed MoUs had been called for discussion while representatives from 11 of them turned up.

"If necessary, another meeting can be held to sort out the problem. We also want to discuss the issue with those who failed to attend the recent review meeting," he said adding companies have been asked to present their case on iron ore requirement before the department secretary.

The minister said that the companies raised the issue of high cost of iron ore being purchased from Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) through e-auction and mentioned about difficulties in transportation of minerals.

Representatives from mega industry players including Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL), Essar Steel and Bhusan Steel who attended the meeting, sought early solution to the raw material problem, Mallick said.

JSPL requires about 325 million tonnes of iron ore for the next 25 years in order to run its Odisha operations, a company spokesperson said.

"The Angul unit of JSPL has a steel making capacity of 2.5 mtpa at present, but are facing acute shortage of iron ore," he said adding JSPL Chairman Naveen Jindal who recently met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, had been hinted to consider import of raw material due to acute shortage.

While JSPL's Angul plant is now running at 2.5 mtpa capacity, it would achieve 6 mtpa capacity soon. The company immediately requires 5 million tonnes of iron ore for its operation. In the long run, after completion of its 6 MTPA steel plant, the company will be requiring 12 to 14 MTPA of iron ore in a year for its operation, the spokesman said.

Similarly, Essar Steel is also seeking captive iron ore mines for its future plans, a company official said, adding the company which has commissioned a pellet manufacturing unit at Paradip has emphasised on the need for long term raw material linkage. Industry players have regretted that though Odisha has huge mineral reserves containing about 28 per cent of iron ore, 24 per cent of coal, 59 per cent of bauxite, 98 per cent of Chromite and large reserves of other major mineral resources, manufacturers are facing acute shortage. Pointing out that plants other than steel units were also hit hard due to raw material crunch, they said the Vedanta group's alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district had to be shut down for several months about two years ago due to lack of bauxite.

Vedanta's alumina refinery and smelter are running with only 25 per cent of their capacities, a company official said adding bauxite for the refinery was sourced entirely from outside the state and abroad.

He recalled that Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal, who met the chief minister recently, had stressed that their plants are now national assets and should be utilised to full capacity in order to generate maxium revenue as well as provide employment to the people in the state.

Though Vedanta was ready with the required capacities to manufacture 20 lakh metric tonne of aluminium per annum in Odisha, raw material has been posing a major problem, the spokesperson said. In order to promote value-addition industries, Odisha has signed MOUs with 93 industrial houses including 48 in steel, 28 in power, 3 in Cement, 3 in Aluminium, one in Oil refinery, 4 in ports and the rest in downstream parks in Steel and Aluminium Sector attracting about Rs 9 lakh crore of investment, official sources said.

But investors feel that contrary to their expectations the industries have been hit by shortage of raw material on account of near total halt of mining operation in the state.

Aluminium producer China Hongqiao in 1.9 billion yuan deal to boost capacity

South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. - December 23rd 2014

China Hongqiao Group, one of the mainland's largest aluminium producers, has announced a 1.9 billion yuan acquisition that would expand its production capacity by around 21 per cent and allow it to generate more of its own power.

The Shandong province-based and main-board listed firm said it had entered into a deal to buy all of Binzhou Municipal Binbei New Material, which trades bauxite, aluminium ingots, plates, foils, strips and makes processed aluminium products.

Binzhou recorded a net profit of 469.12 million yuan in the first nine months of this year, a net profit of 314.23 million yuan last year and a net profit of 91.35 million yuan in 2012, China Hongqiao said in a filing to Hong Kong's stock exchange.

It owns facilities that have an annual capacity to produce 660,000 tonnes of aluminium products and power generators with installed capacity of 1,860 megawatts.

"The group expects that the acquisition will bring positive impact to the group's financial position by enlarging [its] production capacity of aluminium products as well as the proportion of electricity produced in-house," China Hongqiao said.

Binzhou's seller, Shandong Binbei New Material, is a bauxite trader and maker of alumina and high-precision aluminium plate and foil materials. Bauxite is the raw material of aluminium production and alumina is an intermediate product.

The acquisition was of a size that required disclosure but not shareholder approval under listing rules, China Hongqiao said.

In September it raised HK$1.69 billion via a share sale to fund debt repayment, acquisition of bauxite resources and general corporate purposes.

China Hongqiao had 3.14 million tonnes of annual aluminium products production capacity and 4,380 MW of power generating capacity at the end of June.

It met 70.7 per cent of its power demand in-house in the first half of the year. Power typically accounts for around 35 per cent of an aluminium smelter's operating costs.

Ching Hongqiao's shares have risen 22 per cent so far this year, outperforming the Hang Seng Index's flat performance.

Ma'aden produces first alumina from local bauxite

Saudi Gazette - December 23rd 2014

The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden) and lightweight metals leader Alcoa said on Sunday that the alumina refinery at their joint venture aluminum complex in Saudi Arabia has successfully produced its first alumina from Saudi Arabian bauxite.

The alumina refinery at Ras Al Khair is the first ever refinery to be constructed and operated in the region.

The milestone marks the commencement of the final link in the supply chain of this fully integrated aluminium facility.

The alumina refinery will refine Saudi Arabian bauxite, supplied from Ma'aden Bauxite mine at Al Ba'itha and transported by 600-kilomter rail to Ras Al-Khair. The alumina from this refinery will feed into the Ma'aden Aluminium Smelter which produces the aluminium needed for the Ma'aden Aluminium Rolling Mill.

This fully integrated chain delivers operational efficiency and creates the most competitive aluminum complex in the world.

Once fully operational the refinery will produce 1.8 million mtpy (metric tons per year) of alumina.

The alumina will be transported by conveyor to the adjacent smelter to produce 740,000 mtpy of high quality aluminium products for customers in the Gulf region and in international markets.

"We are building a minerals and metals industry in Saudi Arabia that maximizes the value of the nation's mineral resources; contributes to sustainable economic diversification and shareholder value; provides high value job opportunities for Saudis and a reliable supply of quality products to our global customers.

This milestone marks a significant moment for our industry in Saudi Arabia and the broader GCC region," said Khalid Mudaifer, President and CEO of Ma'aden.

"As the lowest cost aluminum complex in the world, the Ma'aden Alcoa joint venture is an important part of Alcoa's strategy to create a globally competitive commodity business," said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

"The first alumina milestone is another demonstration of our disciplined execution as we transform Alcoa to create sustainable shareholder value."

Mining to Resume at Alpart in January 2015

Jamaica Information Service - December 22nd 2014

Mining operations at the Alpart bauxite/alumina plant in Nain, St. Elizabeth, is set to resume next month, while the refinery will officially re-open in December, 2016.

Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, who made the announcement today (December 22), at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, said the agreement was reached with Russian aluminium company, UC Rusal, on Monday.

Mr. Paulwell informed that the deal will facilitate the mining and export of up to two million tonnes of raw bauxite over the next 18 months, with an estimated value of US$60 million.

Mr. Paulwell said the re-commissioning of Alpart, including the refinery, port, mines and other facilitates, is expected to generate some 1,200 jobs in various capacities over the next 15 to 18 months.

He said while bauxite mining will resume in January 2015, the export of ore will not commence before July of next year.

"The new deal represents an expression of the Government's commitment to ensure that the full potential of the bauxite/alumina industry is realised in the shortest possible time," the Minister said.

He noted that the agreement also represents an expression of confidence on the part of UC Rusal in the future of the local bauxite and alumina sector.

Mr. Paulwell had given UC Rusal until December 31 to resume operations, or risk losing its mining rights.

Meanwhile, the Minister revealed that the newly inked deal with UC Rusal will result in a number of benefits for Jamaica.

This includes a US$400 million investment in plant modernization; transportation infrastructure works; the development of port facilities and the establishment of an ethane co-generation facility by 2016.

The Minister said port development works will commence in February 2015, while the repair of affected roadways and related activities for refinery readiness will take place before the first quarter of 2016.

The port, storage and transport infrastructure works are expected to cost a total of US$110 million.

Mr. Paulwell said the Government will also be looking towards the establishment of appropriate and agreed energy solutions for the refinery, once it is reopened.

He said in order to raise the economic efficiency of alumina production at Alpart, UC Rusal will modernize the facility, in particular through the conversion from heavy fuel oil to gas, in order to generate steam and electricity.

"It is planned that the enthane-fuelled co-generation facility will be commissioned before the end of 2017 and the Jamaican authorities will facilitate access to the Jamaican energy grid," the Minister explained.

Rusal Alpart Jamaica will represent a large production complex in Jamaica, with its own bauxite mines to feed alumina production.

Annual production capacity of the complex is expected to be some 1.65 million tonnes of smelter-grade alumina, valued at US$500 million, the Minister said.

New bauxite mine to open in Tasmania

ABC - December 18th 2014

Tasmania's struggling mining industry has received a boost, with civil construction work getting underway at a new bauxite mine in Tasmania's Midlands.

There has not been a new bauxite mine in Australia for 35 years and the ore is in short supply worldwide.

The mine's general manager, Rob Williams, said Australian Bauxite Limited plans to mine two million tonnes of the aluminium ore at its Bald Hill quarry near Campbell Town.

"The mine itself will probably last three to four years but we have two other mines we're going to bring on-stream as soon as we get them through the approval process," he said.

The company's chairman and former Labor premier, Paul Lennon, said international market conditions are perfect.

"The price for bauxite is strong and that's what's given us as board the confidence to invest about $10 million here in Tasmania to open up bauxite mining," he said.

"Here at Bald Hill, a bit further up the road at Fingal, and out close to Hagley are the three sites that we've identified commercial quantities of bauxite."

It is expected eight to 10 years of mining will be possible.

Mr Williams said the bauxite will be shipped from Bell Bay in the state's north to aluminium producers in Australia and overseas.

"This particular bauxite is a very attractive bauxite, it processes using lower energy requirements and so this product itself if we put together enough of it will represent a niche in the market," he said.

It is the raw material for aluminium and will be trucked to Conara before sent via rail to Bell Bay and shipped on China.

The mine will employ 45 people directly and create work for about 135 others.

It is a boost to the area which recently suffered 20 job losses at the nearby Cornwall Coal mine in Fingal.

Tasmanian Resources Minister Paul Harriss toured the site where production is due to start early next month.

Primary Aluminium Production in Brazil Expected to Decline

Mtlexs.Com - December 16th 2014

As per the reports in the media, primary aluminium output in Brazil is expected to fall further in 2015. The decline is expected on account of high energy costs that has been affecting the local producers.

Aluminium companies including Votorantim Metais' CBA, Alcoa and BHP Billiton have made significant cuts in their aluminium output in 2014 and more adjustments are expected to follow.

UC Rusal begins $52 million upgrade to its aluminium powder plants

Powder Metallurgy Review - December 16th 2014

Russia's UC Rusal, a leading global aluminium producer, has announced the start of its metal powder business modernisation programme with a total investment set to reach US$52 million. The programme will see the upgrading of its Powder Metallurgy plants in Volgograd and Shelehov, and aims to increase production of aluminium powder from 20,000 to 25,500 tonnes per year.

Rusal hopes to expand its market share in the Russia and CIS markets from 54% to 76%. The company stated that as part of the programme it is investing in the development of modern dry and wet grinding technology that will allow it to penetrate the aluminium paste segment. Alongside this, the company will also invest in the development of new technology to reduce powder production costs, to produce new types of gas developing agents used in the manufacture of aerated concretes and high-tech pigments for coatings.

"Our powder business has good prospects and the announced long-term investment programme will enhance its efficiency. Modernisation and new equipment will allow Rusal to increase its market share in powders and to take advantage of the potential that the market offers," stated Alexey Arnautov, UC Rusal's Deputy Director for New Projects.

Ultrasound Cuts Costs in Aluminium Alloy Production

PBC Design 007 - December 15th 2014

Scientists at Brunel University London have confirmed that treating molten metal with ultrasound is a cleaner, greener, and more efficient route to produce high-quality castings.

Molten aluminium alloys at 700°C naturally contain a high percentage of dissolved hydrogen, left untreated, the resulting solid metal is highly porous. The most widely-used method of hydrogen removal--argon rotary degassing--is energy intensive and requires costly components.

In pilot scale trials funded by EU Framework Seven Programme, the team, led by Prof. Dmitry Eskin of the Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology, found that ultrasound was just as efficient as the standard method but produced far less waste material (dross) and was much greener.

Said Prof. Eskin, "We know from industry that the price of argon gas continues to rise because making it requires producers to liquefy air which takes a lot of energy. There are also issues with the graphite impellers used. If they break in use the entire batch of alloy is contaminated and useless.

"Our pilot scale research with quantities of up to 150 kg confirmed earlier laboratory tests that a moving ultrasound probe could achieve the similar end results in terms of the resulting casting quality to using argon but with the advantages of not relying on expensive and fragile graphite rods and expensive gas which cannot be captured and recycled.

"The five-fold reduction of the amount of dross created is another benefit. Recovering useable metal from dross is also an expensive and energy intensive process that involves electrolysis."

While the next aim of Prof. Eskin's team is to scale up the trials to the half-tonne level the eventual aim is to introduce cost-effective ultrasound de-gassing earlier in the production cycle.

He added, "Economic drivers like producing lighter engines and lighter car bodies are pushing process improvements in producing higher quality alloys much further back in the production cycle to where alloys are first smelted.

"Ultrasound treatment holds out the promise of being able to de-gas effectively and continuously and we have already made some steps toward achieving this on the pilot level."

Sohar Aluminium revamps 1.2km potline for smelter

Oman Tribune - December 12th 2014

Sohar Aluminium has completed a major revamp of its1.2km-long potline, the centre piece of the $2.4 billion smelter project.

The overhaul represents the first significant upgrade of the country's largest industrial project since it went on stream in June 2008. As a result, all 360 cells – the individual production generation units that make up the giant potline – have now been replaced, according to company officials.

Sohar Aluminium COO Serge Gosselin said that pots typically had a six-year life span and needed to be replaced to sustain and improve productivity and safety. But as the 360 pots at plant formed the backbone of the company's production, replacing them in one-go would have necessitated a complete shutdown of operations during revamp. It was in this backdrop that a programme to change them gradually was readied.

"The programme began in January 2012 with replacements initially taking place at the rate of four pots per month and then ramping up to 19 pot changes in a month. Hundreds of contractors and employees were involved in the project," said manager Hamed Al Jabri.

The initiative effectively helps extend the lifespan of the production line because fewer pots would need to be replaced from time to time. This would mean minimising any impacts to the smelter's overall production capacity.

Accompanying the pot change-out process was a significant technological upgrade as well, aimed at better productivity and energy efficiency, said operations general manager Chris Murray.

A formal launch of the new pots was celebrated at a ceremony aptly dubbed 'first generation change-out completion'.

Hudson Produces Specialty Grade Calcined Alumina Using White Mountain Anorthosite

Marketwire L.P - December 11th 2014

HUDSON RESOURCES INC. is pleased to announce that it has produced calcined alumina suited to specialty non-metallurgical applications using the calcium feldspar anorthosite from its White Mountain Project in Greenland. Specialty grades of alumina (such as calcined, white fused and tabular alumina) are typically used for refractories and ceramics. These types of alumina command a significant premium over smelter grade alumina (SGA), which is primarily used in the production of aluminum. Alumina production is one of three potential revenue streams Hudson is pursuing for the White Mountain project.

Hudson has produced a high quality specialty grade alumina with the following key attributes:
  • High quality Alpha alumina content measured at 99.8%.
  • High alumina content of 99.5%, including the loss of ignition (LOI) measured at 0.37%.
  • Very low soda content (<0.05%), a requirement for high tech electronic and ceramic applications.
  • Fine median particle size of 3.5 micrometres following grinding.
  • Flat tabular particles based on scanning electron microscope images.
  • BET measured surface area of 4.1 m2/g which compares favorably with other reactive aluminas.

James Tuer, Hudson's President, stated, "We are very excited about these results. We initially developed a process to produce smelter grade alumina using our unique calcium feldspar feedstock. The success of that program and the higher purity product it generated naturally lead to investigating the potential of producing a higher value added specialty alumina for non-metallurgical applications. Specialty aluminas typically sell for 2 to 5 times the price of SGA in a robust market of around 3 million tonnes per year."

Sohar Aluminium completes major revamp of potline

Times of Oman - December 10th 2014

A major revamp of Sohar Aluminium's 1.2-km-long potline, which forms the centerpiece of the $2.4 billion smelter project, concluded in November, marking the culmination of a multimillion dollar initiative that is already contributing to productivity optimisation, energy efficiency, and enhanced safety.

The overhaul represents the first significant upgrade of the country's largest industrial project since it came on stream in June 2008. As a result, all 360 cells — the individual production generation units that make up the giant potline — have now been replaced in a move that effectively revitalises smelting operations at Sohar Aluminium and delivers all round benefits.

According to Serge Gosselin, chief operations officer at Sohar Aluminium, pots typically have a six-year life span and must be replaced in order to sustain and improve productivity and safety. However, as the 360 pots at Sohar Aluminium's plant form the backbone of the company's production, replacing them in one go will necessitate a complete shutdown of operations for the duration of the revamp.

"Our team came up with a programme to change them gradually," said Hamed Al Jabri, reduction services manager. "The programme began in January 2012 with replacements initially taking place at the rate of four pots per months and then ramping up to 19 pot changes in a month. November 23 marks the completion of the change-out of the last pot. Hundreds of contractors and employees were involved in the project," Hamad explained.

The initiative effectively extends the lifespan of the production line because fewer pots will need to be replaced from time to time thereby minimising any impacts to the smelter's overall production capacity.

Importantly, accompanying the pot change-out process is a significant technological upgrade as well. Chris Murray, operations general manager said, "The previous pots are based on AP37 technology, and we were replacing them gradually with AP39 lining design. Starting this Sunday, all pots will be based on AP39, which provides better productivity and energy efficiency, and will increase our production capacity."

Jason Moodley, reduction maintenance manager added, "The process of managing the end-of –life of the older technology pots also brought some challenges but was highly successful due to a benchmark system that was developed and introduced during the project. Furthermore, the teamwork displayed in all areas across the plant was exceptional in delivering this important milestone for Sohar Aluminium."

A formal launch of the new pots was celebrated at a ceremony aptly dubbed "First Generation Change-out Completion' on the day of the last pot change-out at the company's Sohar premises in which all of the teams involved in the three-year-long programme were present at the event, including the Pot Re-lining Team and Start-up Team. The entire initiative was overseen by the Reduction Services and Reduction Operations Departments, key operational services departments at Sohar Aluminium.

Sohar Aluminium was formed in September 2004 to undertake a landmark Greenfield aluminium smelter project in the Sultanate of Oman, and it is jointly owned by Oman Oil Company, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company - TAQA and Rio Tinto Alcan.

Work set to begin on bauxite mine near Campbell Town in northern Tasmania

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) - December 8th 2014

Work on a bauxite mine in Tasmania's northern midlands is expected to start next month.

The Bald Hill bauxite project, near Campbell Town, has been approved by the Northern Midlands Council.

It will employ 45 people and is expected to extract more than 1 million tonnes of bauxite over five years.

Australian Bauxite's Ian Levy said shipments were expected to being early next year.

"We're hoping in January that we can do some trial test work to make sure that our design is optimum," he said.

"During January we will start earthmoving, during February we'll start shipments of the product down to the port and hopefully we'll get a ship away either in late February or in early March."

The company also plans to mine bauxite, which is used in the production of aluminium, at Conara and in the Fingal Valley.

Mayor David Downie said it was a welcome boost for the region.

"After the demise of the forest industry this is another industry that's being developed and it's creating economic activity," he said.

"It's another business, it's a mine that will be employing a number of people and its activity that's being developed and that's only good for our economy."

Emirates Global Aluminium plans to invest USD 5 billion by 2020

Metal Guru - December 7th 2014

Emirates Global Aluminium, the world's fourth biggest aluminium producer is very bullish about global aluminum market and plans to invest USD 5 billion in the industry by 2020.

An official said that the company is considering the demands from upstream industry in the coming future.

The company's first phase of the bauxite mine development in Guinea project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017 and the alumina refinery located in African will be put into operation in 2022.

Saudi Maaden pumps $20bn into industrial projects

Trade Arabia - December 7th 2014

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden), the Gulf's largest miner, has invested more than SR85 billion ($20 billion) in three major phosphate and aluminium projects in the kingdom.

The company has till date pumped more than SR21 billion ($6 billion) into Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) for the exploration of phosphate in Hazm Al Jalamid area in the northern region.

After the completion and reaching maximum production capacity, the Maaden projects are expected to make the kingdom a prime producer of phosphate and aluminium as well as other metals such as gold, copper and industrial minerals.

On the aluminium sector, Maaden said it began production for the first time in the kingdom in 2012 and is currently producing up to 740,000 tonnes per year

Rio aluminium division to renew focus on bauxite

The Australian - December 6th 2014

RIO Tinto has declared it will focus its aluminium division on its vast bauxite resources, with a big expansion of its Weipa operations under consideration, and its low-cost, hydro-powered smelters in Quebec.

The renewed focus raises questions around the big miner's local aluminium smelters, which Rio unsuccessfully investigated floating last year under the Pacific Aluminium moniker.

Rio's new aluminium head, Alfredo Barrios yesterday told investors that Rio would embark on a new strategy. "In the next few years, we will be transforming our business around our two key pillars, our industry leading bauxite assets and world class first-quartile smelting position," he said.

Rio's bauxite assets are focused in Australia, where export expansions at Gove in the Northern Territory and Weipa in Queensland are being looked at.

The miner's lowest-cost smelters were bought in the debt-funded $US37 billion Alcan acquisition in 2007, which caused Rio big problems when credit markets froze in the global financial crisis.

Yesterday, Mr Barrios indicated the company could try to sell aluminium capacity that is not in the least expensive quartile of global operations if they can't shape up. "For those 20 per cent (of Rio's capacity) which aren't in the first quartile, the pathway has been defined to try to get there in the next few months," he said.

"We will make a decision on the way forward for those that do not meet the guidance."

Mr Barrios assured investors he was looking for "value-accretive" options. "We are not looking to divest these assets if that destroys value for our shareholders."

The more expensive smelters that had been earmarked for a spin-off include the Boyne Smelter at Gladstone, the Tomago smelter in the Hunter Valley and the Bell Bay smelter in Tasmania.

At Weipa, Rio has been spruiking its long-slated next development, known as South of Embley, which is tipped to replace and expand on output from Weipa.

Mr Barrios said Rio was investigating a first-up development that could export 22.8 million tonnes of bauxite a year, with a secondary expansion to bring that to 50 million tonnes.

But Rio chief Sam Walsh said there could be scope for changes to this and did not rule out doing the big expansion in one go. "We are looking at every option we have in terms of optimising the project," he said after being asked whether Rio could pursue a "big bang" expansion to 50 million tonnes.

The project is expected to go to the board for approval next year.

When asked about Glencore at the briefing, Mr Walsh raised the spectre of the ill-fated Alcan acquisition, which many believe was done as a defensive move against a looming bid from BHP Billiton.

"We are not looking at any major M&A; we are not looking at doing anything stupid, we are looking at playing our game plan," he said when asked if Rio's pledge to strong shareholder returns was being fuelled by Glencore interest.

Mr Walsh said previous comments to news agencies that Rio had a different culture to Glencore did not mean a merger was out of the question.

"The questions being asked are really for (Glencore chairman) Tony Hayward and his board," he said, avoiding mention of Glencore's major shareholder and billionaire chief Ivan Glasenberg, when asked if his comments on culture meant a merger was out of the question.

Rio Tinto committed to materially increase cash returns to shareholders in a sustainable way

Rio Tinto - December 4th 2014

Rio Tinto today demonstrated how its superior portfolio of world-class operations, with industry-leading EBITDA margins and significant growth potential, are positioned to generate healthy free cash flow and shareholder returns.

Citing sector-leading tier one assets, a relentless focus on financial discipline, and an operating and commercial expertise framed by a culture of safety and integrity, Rio Tinto reiterated its commitment to materially increase cash returns to shareholders in a sustainable way from February 2015.

At an investor seminar in London, Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said "When you look at EBITDA margins, the quality and longevity of resources and reserves and potential for expansion and growth, there is no question our world-class assets will generate sustainable returns for decades to come.

"Operational and commercial excellence runs through our business. We have established a leading position in the use of technology and innovation to deliver more tonnes with less cost. This has created material value. This return is not just a one-off, it flows through to the bottom line every year and that represents considerable value when the assets are multi-decade operations. "Assisted by disciplined allocation of capital, our balance sheet is strong and ideally suited to the current economic environment and protecting shareholders. Every dollar we spend must be allocated in the interests of our shareholders. Our focus in 2015 will be on materially increasing returns to shareholders and our goal is delivering strong and sustainable shareholder returns.

"There is a clear focus behind everything we are doing. Looking out over the next five years, we expect to generate strong free cash flow and we remain committed to materially increase cash returns to shareholders. I look forward to announcing this at our annual results in February.

"While the long-term horizon remains robust, the near term outlook is more challenging. Our company is soundly positioned to prosper against this backdrop however, because the uncertainty plays to our strengths and our competitive advantages come to the fore."

The company-wide focus on driving productivity and creating value is transforming the Group, with updates on Aluminium, Copper, Diamonds and Minerals and Iron Ore at the investor seminar underlining the more streamlined, accountable nature of the business.

Rio Tinto is strengthening its position as the world's best aluminium business by improving its industry-leading bauxite assets and world-class first-quartile smelting position. With the re-commissioning of Kitimat next year, around 80 per cent of Rio Tinto smelters will be in the first quartile of the aluminium cost curve. The bauxite export business is expected to deliver EBITDA margins greater than 50 per cent at consensus 2014-2019 prices.

Given the potential market opportunities, Rio Tinto is now prioritising the South of Embley project. Boasting mining costs in the first quartile and attractive returns, this is a tier one investment opportunity. The feasibility study remains a work in progress, with the project on track for board consideration next year and first production slated for 2018.

Rio Tinto Copper is positioning itself as a low-cost producer in the short and medium term, building a business model that creates value through the economic cycles and sets it on pathway for Rio Tinto to be the most profitable business in the industry.

Rio Tinto Copper strategy involves maximising value of existing operations to strengthen profitability, reparing to exploit the next copper market cycle by bringing online additional copper units and rogressing its pipeline of world-class greenfield growth options, La Granja and Resolution.

Rio Tinto's market-leading Diamonds and Minerals businesses are well positioned to increase margins in line with growing demand fuelled by the emergence of the middle class in China and other emerging economies. Diamonds and Minerals products are used in consumer and high-end industrial applications and as such linked to the rising wealth of emerging economies. The diverse portfolio is delivering value for shareholders by streamlining and simplifying the businesses which in turn is having a real impact on cashflow generation.

Rio Tinto also reinforced the compelling investment fundamentals for the expansion of its sector-leading iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Australia, with last year's "breakthrough" expansion plan in full swing and being achieved at an average mine production capital intensity of around $9 a tonne.

Aziana Limited selling Louisiana oil project for US$12.5M

Proactiveinvestors - December 1st 2014

Discussions are also underway with a number of interested parties regarding its flagship Manantenina project in Madagascar .

This renewed interest is due to the ban on the export of bauxite from Indonesia.

Aziana has discovered new bauxite (gibbsite) occurrences over a defined area of over 90 kilometres.

The bauxite is typically a 6 metre surficial blanket deposit draped over rolling stratigraphy with available alumina within 2mm screened product of 30-45% and reactive silica RxSiO of less than 2.5%.

Screen product yields have varied between 30 & 50% gibbsiferous bauxite.

Manantenina has the potential to be a 120 to 160 million tonne resource with high available alumina and low reactive silica qualities.

The high available alumina content and low reactive silica and the location next to the Indian Ocean makes it ideal for development of direct shipping of ore trade to new and existing trade to new and existing.

Century Aluminum Completes Acquisition of Mt. Holly, SC Smelter

MarketWatch - December 1st 2014

CHICAGO, IL, Dec 01, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- Century Aluminum Company CENX, -0.04% announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary has completed its transaction with Alcoa to acquire full ownership of the Mt. Holly aluminum smelter. Mt. Holly, located in Berkeley County, South Carolina, employs approximately 600 people and has an annual production capacity of 229,000 metric tons of primary aluminum.

"We are very pleased to assume full ownership of the Mt. Holly plant," commented Michael Bless, President and CEO. "Our first order of business is to work toward a safe and seamless transition. Mt. Holly is an excellent plant and we are confident that, with some focus and targeted investments, the talented management team can produce even greater results. We also look forward to becoming an active participant in the economy and greater community of Berkeley County. We will now turn our attention to securing a power contract which will support the plant's long-term operations. Though we are early in this complex process, we have been encouraged by recent discussions."

About Century Aluminum

Century Aluminum Company owns primary aluminum capacity in the United States and Iceland. Century's corporate offices are located in Chicago, IL. Visit www.centuryaluminum.com for more information.

Certified Advisors for the First North market of the OMX Nordic Exchange Iceland hf. for Global Depositary Receipts in Iceland:

Atli B. Gudmundsson, Senior Manager -- Corporate Finance, Landsbankinn hf.

Steingrimur Helgason, Director -- Corporate Finance, Landsbankinn hf.

Cautionary Statement

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are statements about future events and are based on our current expectations. These forward-looking statements may be identified by the words "believe," "expect," "target," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "seek," "estimate," "potential," "project," "scheduled," "forecast" or words of similar meaning, or future or conditional verbs such as "will," "would," "should," "could," "might," or "may." Our forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements with respect to: the future financial and operating performance of the Company, its subsidiaries and its projects; access to existing or future financing arrangements; future global and local financial and economic conditions; our assessment of the aluminum market and aluminum prices (including premiums); the benefits of the Mt. Holly acquisition, our expectations regarding the Mt. Holly operations and our ability to successfully integrate the Mt. Holly operations with the rest of the business; and our assessment of power pricing and our ability to successfully obtain and/or implement long-term competitive power arrangements for our operations and projects, including Mt. Holly.

Where we express an expectation or belief as to future events or results, such expectation or belief is expressed in good faith and believed to have a reasonable basis. However, our forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties which may cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed, projected or implied by those forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results and events to differ from those described in such forward-looking statements can be found in the risk factors and forward-looking statements cautionary language contained in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and in other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although we have attempted to identify those material factors that could cause actual results or events to differ from those described in such forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that could cause results or events to differ from those anticipated, estimated or intended. Many of these factors are beyond our ability to control or predict. Given these uncertainties, the reader is cautioned not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.