Global mining and metals company Rio Tinto and energy and telecom cable manufacturer Prysmian announced a new partnership aimed at developing a more sustainable North American supply chain for materials needed to expand power grids for the energy transition.

According to the companies, the new partnership comes as significant investments in power grids will be required to enable the growing share of power generation from renewables, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects will increase from 21% in 2021 to 44% in 2050 in the U.S. According to a report released earlier this month by the International Energy Agency (IEA), 80 million kilometers of power lines will need to be added or replaced globally by 2040, roughly equal to the entire global grid today. The companies noted that the growth will boost demand for innovative materials used in electrification projects.

Rio Tinto Vice President of Aluminium Sales Amy Abraham said:

“We are proud to work together with Prysmian to strengthen their North American supply chain for aluminium produced to the highest sustainability standards and develop the materials needed to produce more advanced power cables. These types of products are critical for the power grid expansion that is needed for the transition to renewable energy sources and a low carbon future.”

As part of the new partnership, the companies have signed a five-year supply agreement for low-carbon aluminum, made with renewable hydropower from Rio Tinto’s Canadian operations.

In addition to the supply agreement, Rio Tinto and Prysmian also signed a joint development agreement to leverage their technologies, research and development capabilities, and technical expertise to develop multi-material solutions in support of growth in demand of materials for the renewable transition.

Prysmian Group North America’s Chief Executive Officer Andrea Pirondini said:

“It is an exciting time to work with Rio Tinto and source this green aluminium that will guide us towards a more sustainable value chain for cable production. With strategic partners such as Rio Tinto, Prysmian is committed to achieving net-zero emissions across our entire value chain by 2050.”