Global mining company Rio Tinto‘s Canadian subsidiary, Rio Tinto Alcan has inaugurated the $1.1bn Arvida aluminium smelter, the AP60 Technology Centre, in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, Québec.

The new plant has an installed capacity of 60,000t of aluminium and is the most technologically advanced aluminium smelter in the world, the company said.

It will produce 40% more aluminium per cell than the previous generation of AP technology.

The 60,000t plant employs nearly 135 people and reached full capacity in December 2013.

The innovative AP60 technology platform will allow for the development of a series of next-generation technologies permitting further improvements in productivity and reductions in energy and environmental footprint.

Rio Tinto Alcan CEO Jacynthe Côté said the new Arvida aluminium smelter represents the next chapter in the company’s history as a leading aluminium producer.

"Today’s milestone is the result of years of work by our research and development teams, particularly the teams that first conceived, developed and tested the AP60 technology at the Laboratoire de recherche des fabrications, in France," Côté said.

"The new AP60 plant clearly illustrates Rio Tinto Alcan’s commitment to innovation and our strategy to focus on projects that will increase our competitiveness through productivity and that leverage our unparalleled hydro power position, further reducing our environmental footprint."

Rio Tinto Alcan’s Arvida Research & Development Centre and research and development teams will look after the new smelter and support further development of the AP60 technology platform.