Alcoa investing $100M in its Quebec plants

Alcoa is investing about $100 million in its four Quebec facilities, but there’s a strike brewing at Alcoa’s Kawneer Manufacturing division in Alberta.

April 20, 2011   by PLANT STAFF

MONTREAL: Alcoa Global Primary Products – Canada (GPP Canada) is investing about $100 million in its four Quebec facilities this year, and Alcoa’s Kawneer Manufacturing division in Alberta appears to have averted a strike.

GPP Canada reports more than 80 projects in 2011 that will position the company to take advantage of growing global demand for aluminium. Investments include $52 million in operational maintenance, $25 million in health and safety, $14 million in cost reduction and $6 million in environment and energy efficiency.

Alcoa, the global aluminium giant based in Pittsburgh, said it’s expecting global demand for aluminium to increase by 12% this year, fuelled by the aerospace, automobile, residential and commercial construction, and beverage container industries, particularly in emerging countries.

The major projects in Quebec include $25 million that will go towards equipment and processes designed to enhance ergonomics and safety.

A $12-million investment at the Deschambault smelter will replace transformer #1, following last December’s replacement of transformer #2. And new bussbars that redirect electric current to electrolytic cells will be enhanced with the installation of a new cooling mechanism.

Smelters in Baie-Comeau, Deschambault and Bécancour will get more reliable, innovative computer-based cell control systems, and a new series of stubs at the Baie-Comeau smelter used to distribute electronic current through anodes will be straightened and reused.

GPP Canada said these investments are in addition to a modernization project at the Baie-Comeau smelter and its wharf announced in 2008 that’s in progress.

Alcoa’s Quebec plants include the Bécancour, Baie-Comeau and Deschambault smelters, and the Bécancour Rod Plant, which produce almost one million metric tons of ingots, castings, billets and aluminum rods annually.

The company employs 3,200 employees and generates more than $1.2 billion worth of economic spin-offs annually in the province.

Meanwhile in Lethbridge, Alta., the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union has reached a tentative labour agreement with Kawneer Manufacturing, a division of Alcoa.

The union was seeking a new collective agreement that provides increased remuneration, including pension, wage, shift premium and benefit increases, said CAW national representative Todd Romanow. The deal has been taken to the membershiop for a vote today. He said that both sides had agreed in writing to extend the strike deadline to noon, in case there was a need to go back to the bargaining table.

The 218 worker bargaining unit includes production and maintenance employees.

The plant operates a press for aluminum extrusion and the production of architectural products.

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