Rio Tinto plans to sell $8bn of aluminium assets

Rio Tinto announced plans to sell an estimated $8bn (£5bn) of aluminium assets as the miner seeks to cut costs and improve the performance of Alcan, the Canadian group it bought for $38bn in 2007.

The world's second biggest mining group is planning to put its interests in up to 13 aluminium assets into a separate unit which it will then sell or spin off. The units to be divested include facilities in Australia, New Zealand, the US, France, Germany and the Lynemouth smelter in the UK.

Jacynthe Cote, chief executive of Rio Tinto's Alcan business, said the businesses "are not aligned any longer with our strategy of operating top-tier assets".

Analysts speculated that Chinalco, China's biggest aluminium producer, may be a potential buyer of some of the assets, since it is Rio's largest shareholder.

They said that Alcoa, the largest US producer which unsuccessfully bid for Alcan in 2007, was among the other potential buyers of assets. Meanwhile, Rusal of Russia said it was studying Rio Tinto's announce- ment before making a decision.