NEW YORK Rio Tinto Alcan is evaluating several conditional offers for its Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne aluminum smelter in the French Alps as part of a process to find a buyer for the plant, the company said.
The smelter could close once its energy contract expires in 2013 if a buyer is not found.
"The process is going well, but as in the case of all smelters approaching the end of their energy contract, it is crucial for these potential buyers to reach an agreement on a power supply contract competitive enough for the plant to be profitable in the long term," said Arnaud Soirat, director for operations in Rio Tinto Alcans European, Middle East and African primary metals group.
The company has been working with the French government, employee representatives and the local community in the search for a buyer with a business model that is suitable for the smelter.
Production curtailments began at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, located in the Savoie department of southeastern France, after the 2008 downturn.
It produced 71,000 tonnes in the first nine months of the year, according to Rio Tintos third-quarter production report.
Rio Tinto Alcan is the aluminum division of London-based Rio Tinto Plc.