Alcoa Mulls Buying Aluminum Holdings of BHP, Rio Tinto

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | November 22, 2012 5:56 PM EST

Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. is mulling to acquire the aluminum holdings of BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group to boost production requirements in anticipation of a 6.5 per cent growth in demand.

"We're having a look if they've got assets that they want to divest," Alan Cransberg, Alcoa of Australia Ltd. managing director, told reporters after a presentation in Melbourne on Thursday.

"Annual growth of 6.5 per cent is a beautiful number and most in the industry would be happy with that," he noted.

He likewise stressed that Alcoa will remain in the aluminum business. "Demand will remain strong in the long term, driven by Asia," Mr Cransberg said.

"If there's an opportunity that we think we can grow that business and has synergies with our business, we will look at that," he added.

Prices of aluminum have fallen this year by as much as 3.3 per cent, still after an 18 per cent decline last year, prompting both BHP and Rio either to suspend development of aluminum projects or eventually sell them. Earlier this month, BHP divested its 33.3 per cent control in an alumina project in Guinea for $1. It likewise cancelled its smelter construction plans in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rio likewise has put up for sale 13 aluminum assets, including the Gove operations in Australia, since October last year, as well as divested smelters, mines and alumina plants.

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