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BMW-Rio Tinto tie-up for ‘green’ aluminium

Rio Tinto and the BMW Group have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to integrate low-carbon solutions for metals used in BMW’s supply chain.

As a start, Rio Tinto will supply aluminium to BMW’s production facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for incorporation into body components from 2024. Low-carbon primary aluminium from Rio Tinto’s hydroelectric facilities in Canada, in combination with recycled content, could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 70% compared to BMW’s benchmark for the metal.

The North American partnership includes the use of aluminium produced Rio Tinto’s Elysis technology, said to be the world’s first carbon-free aluminium smelting technology, by which metal is produced without direct carbon dioxide emissions during the smelting process. Instead, pure oxygen is emitted. BMW also has an agreement with aluminium producer EGA to provide ‘green’ metal in Germany.

Rio Tinto’s chief commercial officer, Alf Barrios, says: ‘As a global leader in responsible aluminium production, we are well placed to deliver innovative solutions to our customers on their journey of decarbonisation towards net zero emissions. As global demand for responsibly sourced materials continues to grow, automakers are increasingly looking to partner with suppliers who share their commitment to traceability and sustainability.’

BMW board member Joachim Post adds: ‘We have clear targets for reducing CO2 emissions in the supply chain. By using innovative materials, we can reduce the carbon footprint of our vehicles, even before handing them over to customers.’

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