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Rio Tinto's Iceland aluminum smelter puts one potline under 'controlled shutdown': spokesman

New York — Rio Tinto's ISAL 205,000 mt/year aluminum smelter in Hafnarjordur, Iceland, is running with two potlines, with one under a controlled shutdown because of raw material issues.

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"Operations at the ISAL smelter have been impacted recently due to irregularities in raw material inputs," Matthew Klar, head of Rio Tinto Media Relations, Americas, told S&P Global Platts in an email Tuesday.

"We have taken steps to safely stabilize operations with a controlled shutdown of one potline and are working closely with customers to minimize any impacts," he added.

In a smelter's potline, molten aluminum is extracted from alumina via electrolysis. Consistent delivery of alumina to the pots, as well as consistent alumina chemistry, can be crucial to the operation.

Rio Tinto's global share of aluminum production in 2018, according to its annual report, was 3.5 million mt, with ISAL contributing 212,000 mt, or 6.1%, of that total.

In February 2018, Rio Tinto reached an agreement to sell the smelter to Hydro, along with its interests in Dutch anode facility Aluchemie and Swedish aluminum fluoride plant Alufluor. The parties, however, signed a termination agreement in September at Hydro's request to end the transaction.

--Joe Innace,

--Edited by Richard Rubin,