Western aluminum industry is “besieged” and Rio Tinto needs a strong partnership with the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region to face the many challenges. The industry will never be the same with new players who have impressive capacity in incomparable conditions to those producers here.
The chief of operations for Primary Metal North America Rio Tinto Étienne Jacques, took advantage of the start of construction of $ 36 million of Laterrière in the presence of the Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, to ask once more the support from the region to the various projects in progress, including the red mud in the heart of Saguenay.
“Western aluminum industry is under siege. We thought things would improve. This is not the case and you have a partnership with the strongest region for dealing with global issues. The basic game and takes no more action is needed, “reiterated the Rio Tinto boss to make clear that the company is sailing in troubled waters.
The State boils down to very low prices on the market with too high production capacity that generate a lot of metal in a market already mortgaged by the uncertain economic situation. The investment of $ 36 million realized currently in Laterriere already announced is an example, according to Étienne Jacques, the willingness of the company to continue to be a major player in the regional economy as well as working to improve productivity.
This project is part of the monitoring of RT for participation in the final regional economic summit. The company had then referred the three axes on which it intends to work in the coming years. This is according Étienne Jacques ensure the extension of the Vaudreuil plant chemicals, to identify value-added projects such as small aluminum ingots produced at the Jonquière casthouse and growth projects . In the case of Laterriere, it is a growth project since it allows the region to increase the production of 15,000 metric tons per year even already built facilities.
“It is a road traveled considering that six years ago almost to the day, a tank room was lost because of a problem,” said Étienne Jacques in explaining investment made at the factory and that will allow to increase production significantly modifying the operation of the plant. To pick this growth, Laterriere teams have proposed the construction of a new building south of cell rooms, which house an impressive transponder that move the crane.
The challenge for Laterriere was to change the supply of alumina tank system. The change was significant because the system must inject into the vats 30,000 annual metric tons of alumina more to arrive to increase aluminum production by 15 000 tonnes.
The realized investment includes the construction of the new building and mechanical equipment to move the crane between the cell rooms and the mechanical workshop. The other part of the project is to modernize the electrical distribution systems that are central to the production of aluminum.
The Laterrière plant, built in the late 1970s, working on the basis of a tank of 155,000 amps. The changes to the system will help to increase the supply to 219,000 amps.
“Water” of Quebec everywhere
The Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, like inform international visitors passing through Quebec that the small gray aluminum ingot prominently placed on his desk is not metal, but “water” of Quebec which is exported all over the world, referring to hydropower.
While in Laterriere, Thursday, the Prime Minister has again made a profession of faith in the aluminum industry, a pillar of Quebec’s manufacturing sector, despite the gray clouds that accumulate in the global economic landscape.
“The investment that we have here is excellent news for the region and for Quebec. The aluminum industry is very important for the future prosperity of Quebec, “insisted the Prime Minister at the time to speak to journalists and workers of Laterriere smelter. He did not fail to relate this project to the consequences of regional economic summit.
The Quebec government passed its own aluminum strategy to increase economic activity arising from this sector, according to the Prime Minister. It therefore intends to double the processing of aluminum in the coming years and will spend over $ 33 million three years to achieve this goal.
The region, a pole
Philippe Couillard, there is no doubt that the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is the hub of this industry in Quebec. For cons, the remanufactured especially believed in peripheral areas of the metropolis while factories in the region closed their door (Novelis).
The Prime Minister believes that previous governments have never worked so as to create a strategy to share all industry players, as advocated by the strategy adopted by his government. One aspect of this policy is the funding of the Company’s Aluminum Valley.
During a brief press conference, Philippe Couillard reiterated that Quebec did not hesitate to use its hydropower benefits to offer aluminum producers interesting business opportunities. Despite all the comments, he said that Quebec offers aluminum sector companies energy tariffs among the lowest in the world.
Moreover, added the Prime Minister, the Quebec aluminum is produced with clean, renewable energy. Companies like Tesla and BMW are ready to bet the aluminum produced with clean energy.
The Director General of Metal Proco Alma Jean-Denis Toupin, was invited to speak as a representative of entrepreneurs who realize now the project. He explained that no less than 15 different companies were selected by Proco to complete the construction of the building and equipment.
Only Proco Metal, this is a 50,000 hour contract that will share different trades of the construction industry. Jean-Denis Toupin said that this project comes at a propitious time as the projects are very rare in the region.
The President of the National Union of Employees of the Arvida aluminum affiliated Unifor (SNEAA-Unifor), Alain Gagnon, welcomed the investment confirmed for Laterriere smelter. The union leader has seen fit to emphasize the progress made in recent years as “workers have not been easy.” Despite disorder and major constraints environment, the president of SNEAA highlighted the ability of workers and management adapt to change. Those of Laterriere will do with the transformation of the factory that will inevitably require a new organization of work. Alain Gagnon has challenged the leadership of the multinational to present other projects and he could not help but refer to ads of phases II and III of AP60 Jonquière complex. With the problems besetting the industry right now, the Jonquière plant is at risk due to obsolescence precooked tanks that will be demolished with achieving the last two phases of the AP-60 project. It recommended that the Quebec premier not to hesitate to use surplus energy from Hydro-Québec to support industrial development and create quality jobs.