From: Reuters
Published November 18, 2007 12:52 PM

UAE says Rio Tinto in $5 bln aluminum smelter talks

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - State-owned Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corp (ADBIC) said it is in final talks with Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc <RIO.AX><RIO.L> to develop an aluminum smelter in the United Arab Emirates at an initial cost of $5 billion.

The two companies will each own 50 percent of the three phase project, with each phase consisting of 700 tonnes per year of aluminum smelting capacity, said Jim White, chief operating officer of ADBIC.

The first phase will cost about $5 billion and the second about the same, White said on Sunday on the sidelines of an investment conference in Abu Dhabi.

"We're in final, detailed negotiations," White told reporters. "The UAE is in a fantastic location with relatively cheap energy costs."

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Abu Dhabi is already developing, in cooperation with Dubai, what will be one of the world's largest aluminum smelters at Taweelah, near Abu Dhabi city.

"We are in talks about a smelter that is as large, if not bigger, than the one at Taweelah," White said at the conference organized by London-based Middle East Economic Digest.

The smelter would be located at al-Ruwais, west of Abu Dhabi city.

"The world is growing," said White. "The world is requiring aluminum." Royal Bank of Scotland is advising ADBIC, White said.

(Reporting by James Cordahi; Editing by David Holmes)

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