Montreal Gazette

Ap­ple backs joint ven­ture with Al­coa-Rio to de­velop green alu­minum process

- MARK GURMAN AND JOE DEAUX Business · Tech · Investing · Technology Industry · Industries · Apple Inc · Alcoa · Iceland · Rio Tinto Group · Belgium · Montreal · Quebec · Justin Trudeau · iPhone · iPad · Timothy D. Cook · United States of America · London · Arizona · Belarus · Alcoa · Macintosh · Corning · Corning (city), New York · iPhone 8 · Finisar

Ap­ple Inc. is back­ing a joint ven­ture be­tween metal pro­duc­ers Al­coa Corp. and Rio Tinto Group to de­velop a new alu­minum-mak­ing process that elim­i­nates green­house gases.

The Al­coa-Rio joint ven­ture, which will get ini­tial fund­ing of $188 mil­lion ($US147 mil­lion), will be based in Mon­treal and have a re­search fa­cil­ity in Que­bec’s Sague­nay re­gion, the alu­minum com­pa­nies said in a state­ment.

The an­nounce­ment was made with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau on hand along with ex­ec­u­tives from the three com­pa­nies. While Al­coa and Rio are de­vel­op­ing the tech­nol­ogy, which they plan to put on sale be­gin­ning in 2024, Ap­ple said it “helped fa­cil­i­tate” the col­lab­o­ra­tion and will pro­vide tech­ni­cal sup­port.

Alu­minum is used in ev­ery­thing from au­to­mo­biles to air­planes to win­dow frames, and is key to Ap­ple’s own de­vices. For years, the com­pany has used alu­minum in iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Ap­ple Watches.

“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.

Ap­ple has pushed for us­ing more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ma­te­ri­als in its prod­ucts. The com­pany is in­vest­ing $13 mil­lion into the joint ven­ture.

Rio and Al­coa will be in­vest­ing $55 mil­lion, while the Cana­dian and Que­bec gov­ern­ments will each in­vest $60 mil­lion.

The move com­bines the ef­forts of com­peti­tors Al­coa, the largest U.S. alu­minum pro­ducer, and Lon­don-based Rio, the world’s No. 2 miner. They ap­pointed Rio ex­ec­u­tive Vin­cent Christ to head the ven­ture, to be named El­y­sis.

For Ap­ple, the pub­lic in­vest­ment is a rare move. While Ap­ple typ­i­cally in­vests mil­lions of dol­lars in the devel­op­ment of new man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses and key tech­nolo­gies, it of­ten doesn’t dis­cuss them pub­licly.

Re­cently, how­ever, the com­pany started a $5 bil­lion fund in the U.S., re­sult­ing in in­vest­ments in com­pa­nies such as Corn­ing Inc. and Fin­isar Corp., which make glass for iPhone screens and Face ID sen­sors, re­spec­tively.

Five years ago, Ap­ple also in­vested hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in an Ari­zona plant for build­ing sap­phire crys­tal iPhone screens, but the deal fell apart due to qual­ity-con­trol prob­lems.

The in­vest­ment in the new alu­minum process is com­par­a­tively small mon­e­tar­ily, but could have a big im­pact on the com­pany’s fu­ture en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­forts. Ap­ple has said it even­tu­ally hopes to make its prod­ucts en­tirely from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als. It also in­di­cated re­cently that it re­duced its to­tal green­house gas emis­sions by two mil­lion met­ric tonnes be­tween 2016 and 2017.

On its en­vi­ron­ment re­port, the com­pany says that 80 per cent of green­house emis­sions from an iPhone 8 come dur­ing the pro­duc­tion phase. This new ini­tia­tive could re­duce that.

 ?? HO - EL­Y­SIS ?? Alu­minum is com­mon in many prod­ucts.
HO - EL­Y­SIS Alu­minum is com­mon in many prod­ucts.

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