Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second biggest mining company, plans to sell 13 aluminum assets, including smelters and alumina plants from Australia to the U.S., to improve the group’s financial performance.Rio’s stakes in six Australian and New Zealand assets will be transferred to a new unit before being sold, the London-based company said today in a statement. Seven other assets in France, Germany, the U.S. and U.K. will also be sold, it said.The $1 billion Tomago smelter in Australia and the $833 million Serbee smelter in the U.S. were the most valuable assets indentified last month by Deutsche Bank AG in a list of nine candidates the bank singled out for possible sale by the company. Rio has sold more than $11 billion in assets since 2008 to cut debt after the $38 billion purchase of Alcan Inc.“It’s an appropriate course of action to take to concentrate on those that are the most profitable and to dispose, or put into a separate vehicle, those that aren’t,” Peter Rudd, mining and resources manager at Armytage Private Ltd., said by phone from Melbourne. The Rio assets may lure Chinese bidders as well as major producers such as Alcoa Inc (AA), he said.Rio, which counts Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. as its largest shareholder, rose 2.5 percent to A$70.03 in Sydney trading, compared with a 1.5 percent gain in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index. Chinalco, as the state company is known, is the nation’s largest producer of the metal used in products including beverage cans and planes.Aluminum will have the biggest annual demand increase among industrial metals through 2015 as its surplus turns to a shortage, according to researcher CRU. Usage will outpace supply in 2015 as demand grows by an average of 7.6 percent a year, Paul Robinson, CRU’s non-ferrous metals group manager, said Oct. 3.Rio plans to raise its aluminum unit’s profit margin to 40 percent by 2014, Deutsche Bank said in a Sept. 19 report. The unit’s margin was 39 percent in 2005 prior to the Alcan takeover and dropped to a low of 4 percent in 2009, the bank said in the report. It was 16 percent in 2010.“The strength of our balance sheet means that we can choose the most opportune method and timing to divest these assets, which may not occur until the economic climate improves,” Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said in the statement. The operations to be sold “are no longer aligned with our strategy,” he said.Deutsche Bank also named the Lynemouth smelter in the U.K. and the Gardanne refinery in France, which are on the company’s list, as possible assets for disposal, and estimated Rio may be able to achieve sales at 80 percent of its total valuation of $4.1 billion, raising about $3.2 billion.