Montreal (AFP) – Canada and Quebec province, as well as tech giant Apple, announced Thursday their backing of aluminum producers Alcoa and Rio Tinto’s new joint venture to develop a carbon-free smelting process.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement with executives of the three companies on hand.
Apple is investing Can$13 million (US$10 million) in the joint venture, and will provide technical support.
Rio and Alcoa are investing Can$55 million (US$43 million), while the Canadian and Quebec governments will each invest Can$60 million (US$47 million) in a first round of financing.
The technology promises to be “the most significant innovation in the aluminum industry in more than a century, and marks a decisive step forward in the fight against climate change,” said a statement.
“Once fully developed and implemented, the ground-breaking technology will virtually eliminate the Canadian aluminum industry’s carbon footprint.”
Aluminum is used in everything from cars and planes, softdrink cans, foil and window frames, as well as in Apple smartphones, tablets and computers.
The sector employs 10,500 people in Canada.
Alcoa is the largest aluminum producer in the United States and Rio is the world’s second-largest miner.
Their joint venture is to be named Elysis and headed by Rio executive Vincent Christ. It will be based in Montreal, with a research facility in Quebec’s Saguenay region.
The new technology is expected to be ready for licensing to retrofit smelters or build new facilities by 2024.
According to Ottawa, it has the potential to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 6.5 million metric tonnes in Canada — the equivalent of taking 1.8 million cars off the road.
“We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminum produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in the statement.