by Tegan Annett
THE steel giant rumoured as a potential buyer for Rio Tinto's Gladstone assets has started an investment program to buy the Rio Tinto-owned largest aluminium smelter in Europe.
Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance confirmed today they have launched an investment program worth EU$2 billion after the company's industrial arm Liberty House made a binding conditional offer to buy the France smelter.
Mr Gupta is rumoured to be a potential buyer of Boyne Smelter Limited, Queensland Alumina Limited, Rio Tinto Yarwun and Gladstone Power Station.
It was reported in October last year the billionaire industrialist had toured the Gladstone refineries, smelter and the power station.
At the time Rio Tinto declined to comment.
In a statement Mr Gupta said the offer to buy the French smelter Aluminium Dunkerque was in line with the company's "ambitious plans".
"Our detailed analysis leads us to believe that Dunkerque is the best location to drive forward our downstream automotive strategy," he said.
"Aluminium Dunkerque has a high-quality aluminium operation benefiting from a top-class workforce and management."
Mr Gupta has previously said Australian aluminium plants had an advantage if power costs could be kept down because the nation produced bauxite ore, which is refined here to alumina.