ON THE MARKET: NRG Gladstone Power Station is on sale.
ON THE MARKET: NRG Gladstone Power Station is on sale. Mike Richards GLA130215NRGP

Meet 'Project Lego': Mining giant's refreshed asset sale plan

MINING giant Rio Tinto has rebranded its plans to sell its Pacific Aluminium assets, including Boyne Smelter and the Gladstone Power Station.

Fairfax media has reported the plan to sell four smelters and the Gladstone Power Station, which form Pacific Aluminium, has been renamed and is now called Project Lego.

The Australian Financial Review said Queensland Alumina Limited and Rio Tinto Yarwun were expected to join the pack too, creating a deal that could be more than $2.6billion.

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Asked about Project Lego, Rio Tinto responded: "Nothing to report at this stage".

The renewed push for a sale follows ongoing speculation around potential buyers, including Glencore, Century Aluminium and a new arrival, British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta.

Mr Gupta's company Liberty House purchased the Whyalla steelworks in South Australia and a majority stake in the Adelaide-based energy company Zen Energy.

Mr Gupta told The Australian his near-term local strategy was to expand Whyalla and its port, develop more ports in Australia, purchase aluminium assets and develop a magnetite plant.

Pacific Aluminium, which Rio Tinto has had on and off the market since 2013, had a net income of $120million between January and June, according to Rio Tinto's second-quarter results.

Rio Tinto's third-quarter report showed aluminium production was three per cent lower than the same period last year.

The 14 per cent curtailment at Boyne Smelter in March, blamed on high power prices within the Queensland spot market, was cited as the main reason for the drop in production.



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