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The Globe and Mail

Plans for Quebec metallurgical facility put on ice

Operations at a Rio Tinto iron ore mine in Western Australia are seen in this file photo.


A subsidiary of Rito Tinto Group in Quebec is shelving plans for construction of a metallurgical facility east of Montreal.

Weak global market conditions are behind the decision to suspend a so-called greenfield project in Bécancour to double capacity at its Sorel-Tracy plant, Jean-François Turgeon, managing director of Rio Tinto Iron & Titanium (RTIT), said in an e-mail Tuesday.

The Bécancour plant proposal was part of a wider project -- known as TO4 -- to expand mining and smelting operations in Canada, Madagascar, South Africa and Mozambique.

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RTIT "has reviewed the economic viability of the TO4 project and decided to suspend it and stop prefeasibility studies in Canada and Madagascar," said Mr. Turgeon.

The plant would have produced mostly titanium dioxide feedstock, used as a white pigment for paints, paper and plastics. Also being considered as options were production of specialty iron, steel and metal powders.

Reports last year said the investment would be at least $2-billion.

Bécancour, not far from Sorel-Tracy, was chosen as the site for the new facility because of expansion limitations at Sorel-Tracy. Bécancour also offered low-cost energy and decent port facilities.

The existing operations in Sorel-Tracy, which employ about 2,000 people, are being upgraded with environmental modifications to lower sulphur dioxide emissions and refine dust collection.

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