Citing the continuing impasse in labor negotiations, Pittsburgh aluminium pioneer Alcoa Corporation announced yesterday the immediate curtailment of half the production of the lone potline at Aluminerie de Bécancour Inc. (ABI) smelter in Québec, Canada.
The curtailment is but the latest step in a labor dispute that has gone on for over a year. The previous five-year labor agreement expired in the summer of 2017, and the ninety-day grace period elapsed in late November of that year. Despite intense negotiations and draft proposals passed back and forth, the issue was not settled, and a lock-out ensued.
Lacking a labor agreement and a labor force, two of the site’s three potlines were curtailed eleven days into the new year, and remain so to date. The third potline has been operated by salaried employees at ABI, maintaining and improving the line over the past year. However,
Alcoa says that attrition of its salaried staff has forced its hand, necessitating the closure announced yesterday.
Negotiations between management and labor will continue, per Alcoa. The firm says it continues to remain committed to negotiating an agreement.
Per Alcoa, the partial curtailment is expected to be complete by the end of the day tomorrow. Salaried employees will remain at work at the ABI plant to keep machinery ready in the event of a restart.
Alcoa currently holds a 74.95-percent interest in the operations at ABI, with Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. accounting for the remaining 25.05 percent. The remaining line in operation has a nameplate capacity of 138 thousand metric tons per annum, with 103 thousand metric tons per annum of capacity belonging to Alcoa Corporation.
The plant’s overall nameplate capacity is 413 thousand metric tons per annum. ABI features 720 pots distributed among three installed potlines, making it the second largest aluminium smelter on the continent.