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YAOUNDE, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto plans to sell its shares in an aluminium smelter in Cameroon, ending several decades in partnership with the government because the project no longer fits the global mining group’s strategy.
Rio, which makes more than 90 percent of its profit from iron ore, has been edging away from aluminium since its $38 billion 2007 acquisition of Canadian giant Alcan soured during the financial crisis, leaving it with heavy writedowns. It has ruled out new investments in the metal.
Rio Tinto Alcan, the mining giant’s aluminium business, said on Tuesday it would work with Cameroon’s government to find a new investor in Alucam Group, as the 100,000 tonne-a-year facility is known.
“Rio Tinto Alcan is proud of its long participation in the Alucam Group over several decades. However, the Alucam Group’s new business model no longer fits with our strategy,” Rio Tinto said late on Monday.
Its contracts for technical and administrative assistance will not be affected, the company added.
Rio Tinto Alcan and the government both have a 46.67 percent stake in the project while the AFD, the French Development Agency, has a 5.6 percent stake and employees own 1.1 percent.
The smelter employs some 570 people at Edea, 65km (40 miles) from Cameroon’s economic capital Douala. (Reporting by Tansa Musa; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by David Goodman)