SAGUENAY, Quebec After 60 years of operation, the Jonquire Soderberg primary aluminum smelter will be closed by the second quarter of this year. Compared with other ALCAN smelters in the province, the Jonquire facility has the highest production costs and faces the greatest environmental challenges. It is also the least energy-efficient.
Alcan will shut down the four Soderberg potlines between February and April 2004. This decision cuts about 90,000 tonnes (or 3%) of the company's worldwide production. The pre-bake smelting portion of the plant, which produces 163,000 tonnes/year, is not affected by this closure decision. About 550 jobs will disappear, but Alcan expects normal employee turnover during the next two years will mitigate the number of permanent layoffs.
"Closing a plant is never an easy decision, but as a corporation dedicated to economic and environmental sustainability, we must make the decisions that are required to be both environmentally responsible and protect Alcan's competitive position globally. Despite our successful efforts over the years to bring the Jonquire Soderberg lines up to today's environmental and technological standards, the reality is that this technology has a limited life span," said Travis Engen, president and CEO of Alcan.
See also the company's website at www.alcan.com.<br>