Rio Tinto Alcan awards US$200 million contract to Bechtel for Kitimat Modernization Project

MONTREAL, July 9 /PRNewswire/ - Rio Tinto Alcan has awarded a contract to Bechtel, worth approximately US$200 million, to conduct the complete engineering, procurement and construction management of the planned approximately US$2.5 billion Kitimat Modernization Project in British Columbia, Canada. The project would increase production capacity at the smelter by 40%, taking it up to 400,000 tonnes per year.

"Rio Tinto Alcan is pleased to announce the signing of this contract, a critical step towards the realization of the Kitimat project. Bechtel brings together a strong combination of aluminium smelting expertise, worldwide presence, and large project experience," said Dick Evans, chief executive, Rio Tinto Alcan.

Bechtel received an initial contract in June 2007 for preliminary engineering, feasibility and construction pre-work activity which has already begun. It will have construction site offices in Kitimat as well as engineering offices in both Vancouver and Montreal. Final Rio Tinto Board approval of the Kitimat Modernization Project is expected before end of fourth quarter this year.

"This contract with Bechtel will ensure that a state-of-the-art plant with leading-edge technology is efficiently installed at Kitimat within a rigorous execution schedule, and is respectful of our high health, safety and environmental standards of performance," said Jacynthe Cote, president and CEO, Primary Metal, Rio Tinto Alcan.

The project would upgrade the existing 54-year old smelter using state-of-the-art AP technology and increase its aluminium production capacity by 125,000 tonnes using hydroelectric power from Rio Tinto Alcan's Kemano power station. It would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 per cent per year. First metal from the modernized smelter is expected in 2011.

About Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this announcement, including, without limitation, those regarding Rio Tinto's financial position, business strategy, plans and objectives of management for future operations (including development plans and objectives relating to Rio Tinto's products, production forecasts and reserve and resource positions), are forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Rio Tinto, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.

Such forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions regarding Rio Tinto's present and future business strategies and the environment in which Rio Tinto will operate in the future. Among the important factors that could cause Rio Tinto's actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include, among others, levels of actual production during any period, levels of demand and market prices, the ability to produce and transport products profitably, the impact of foreign currency exchange rates on market prices and operating costs, operational problems, political uncertainty and economic conditions in relevant areas of the world, the actions of competitors, activities by governmental authorities such as changes in taxation or regulation and such other risk factors identified in Rio Tinto's most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") or Form 6-Ks furnished to the SEC. Forward-looking statements should, therefore, be construed in light of such risk factors and undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this announcement. Rio Tinto expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking (except as required by applicable law, the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the "Takeover Code"), the UK Listing Rules, the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the Financial Services Authority and the Listing Rules of the Australian Securities Exchange) to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in Rio Tinto's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

Nothing in this announcement should be interpreted to mean that future earnings per share of Rio Tinto plc or Rio Tinto Limited will necessarily match or exceed its historical published earnings per share.

Subject to the requirements of the Takeover Code, none of Rio Tinto, any of its officers or any person named in this announcement with their consent or any person involved in the preparation of this announcement makes any representation or warranty (either express or implied) or gives any assurance that the implied values, anticipated results, performance or achievements expressed or implied in forward-looking statements contained in this announcement will be achieved.

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