Federal and Quebec governments fund aluminum smelting breakthrough

The federal and Quebec governments are teaming up with a trio of corporate giants from the metals and tech industries to commercialize the world's first carbon-free aluminum smelting process.

Ottawa, Quebec and Apple Inc. are investing in a joint venture between Alcoa Inc. and Rio Tinto Group called Elysis, which will commercialize a process that eliminates greenhouse gas emissions from traditional smelting by instead producing oxygen.

Elysis, which expects large-scale deployment of the technology by 2024, will be given a total of $188 million from Alcoa, Rio Tinto, Ottawa, the Quebec government and Apple to develop and license the technology so it can be used to retrofit smelters or build new facilities.

The federal and Quebec governments are contributing $60 million each, with the Quebec government getting a 3.5 per cent stake in the venture and Alcoa and Rio Tinto splitting the remaining ownership equally.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will invest $55 million in the project.

Apple, which put forth $13 million, helped facilitate the collaboration between Alcoa and Rio Tinto and has vowed to provide technical support as the project progresses.