Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Finished coils of aluminum. Alcoa’s smelters at Baie-Comeau, Deschambault and Bécancour in Quebec will be modernized under a $2.1-billion upgrade, the company has announced.

AFP/Getty Images/AFP / Getty Images

Quebec's status as low-cost, global centre of primary aluminum production just got another boost with Alcoa Inc.'s confirmation of plans for a $2.1-billion (U.S.) expansion and modernization program at three major facilities in the province.



Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, the largest producer of aluminum in North America, said Monday it plans to proceed with a five-year project to expand production, cut costs, modernize operations and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at its smelters in Baie-Comeau, Deschambault and Bécancour.



The decision comes after Alcoa was able to secure a 25-year commitment from the Quebec government for preferential electricity rates from Hydro-Québec.

Story continues below advertisement



Last week, Aluminerie Alouette – a consortium led by Rio Tinto Alcan – and Quebec Premier Jean Charest reached an agreement for low-cost electricity that clears the way for a proposed $2-billion (Canadian) modernization and expansion of a massive plant on the Lower North Shore of the St-Lawrence River.



Alcoa's investment is a vote of confidence in the province of Quebec as a source of low-cost electricity, massive amounts of which are needed to transform the raw material bauxite into aluminum.



The timing is right because the aluminum market is still weak and Alcoa will be well-positioned with higher capacity just as prices are expected to firm up over the next few years, one veteran industry analyst said.



"This demonstrates that even cyclical companies can improve their cost positions. It's the kind of thing a cyclical company should be doing when it can," said Charles Bradford of Affiliated Research Group LLC in New York.



Alcao says the project will allow it to reduce costs at the three Quebec smelters by 13 percentage points. Production capacity will be increased by 120,000 tonnes per year. Total yearly production at the three smelters as well as at the Bécancour rod plant currently stands at about 1 million tonnes.



Quebec has agreed to provide Alcoa with a bloc of 325 megawatts of electricity at an undisclosed preferential tariff.



As part of the modernization of Baie-Comeau, the older smelting pots that use Soderberg technology will be replaced with an all-new electrolysis pot line, resulting in a 40-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the company said in a news release.

Story continues below advertisement



Other improvements include an increase in the amperage at Deschambault, allowing for expansion of annual output.



"The government of Quebec has clearly envisioned the mutual benefits stemming from this new investment plan, and that's what enables us to look to the future with confidence," Pierre Morin, president of Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products, said in a statement.



Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies