DESCHAMBAULT, Quebec The $1-billion expansion of ALCOA INC.'s aluminum smelter in this town has hit a roadblock in the days following the recent provincial elections. Yves Sequin, the provincial Minister of Finance, said in his budget speech, "We have decided not to go through with the project in its present form."
The Quebec government and Alcoa signed a memorandum of understanding on March 5, 2003, to expand the smelter to 570,000 tonnes/year from 250,000 tonnes. The agreement called for Alcoa to create at least 1,250 permanent positions in aluminum processing in the province and a minimum of 250 jobs for operators at the smelter. The government pledged a $260-million interest-free loan, tax exemptions, and preferential hydroelectric power rates. Construction was to begin in 2006 and full production was planned no later than 2013.
Jean-Pierre Gilardeau, president of Alcoa Canada Primary Metals, expressed understanding of the government's position. But he remains optimistic that with changes beneficial to both parties, the project will proceed.
In Quebec, Alcoa operates three aluminum smelters and 16 other plants which together employ over 4,000 people. The smelter at Baie-Comeau has also been targeted for a $1-billion modernization. For a look at Alcoa's worldwide business, go to www.alcoa.com.