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Quebec aluminum industry in expansion mood

Will be key economic growth plans in the province during the next decade.


MONTREAL — The head of the Aluminum Association of Canada says producers are in an expansion mood after the new Quebec government indicated the sector will be a key part of economic growth plans in the province during the next decade.

Jean Simard told an industry conference that Jacques Daoust, minister of economy, innovation and exports, has said he is developing a policy that will help the industry, especially on the issue of energy costs.

Simard said producers need to see rates fall about 40% to a globally competitive level of about 2.7 cents per kWh from the current commercial rate of 4.8 cents.

He said 90% of plant closures in the world during the past decade have happened in the highest cost facilities, while investments have progressively waned because they are no longer feasible.

Simard said the minister said it will use energy and aluminum as tools for economic development for the next five to 10 years by working with industry players. That commitment makes Simard optimistic the rate will be lowered because of the “very clear signal that was reiterated by the government that it wants to support development of aluminum.”

Large investments won’t happen overnight because the aluminum industry faces continued challenges, including a low global price, he said. But a commitment for lower energy prices could lead to the start of engineering contracts if operators “start seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“What I hear is we’re talking about two years down the road maybe that things are expected to start picking up.”

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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