Canada’s largest aluminium smelter Aluminerie Alouette will receive C$15 million (US$11.5 million) from the Canadian government for use in developing and improving operations at the site.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada says the grant from the Strategic Innovation Fund will allow Alouette to modernize its operations at Sept-Îles as well as giving it the ability to maintain employment for about 830 workers.
Patrice L’Huillier, Alouette’s president and chief executive officer, told domestic media that the contribution was very welcome considering the turbulent waters in which the firm finds itself.
“The government’s support speaks to our shared commitment to expand primary aluminum production in the country and thus generate benefits for the entire community,” noted L’Huillier.
He continued by saying that Alouette believes investing locally is the best way to cultivate success for the long term.
The funding Alouette will be receiving is from the Steel and Aluminum Program of the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation Steel and Aluminum Initiative, which is a C$100-million (US$76.5 million) nationwide initiative to boost investment in projects that are aimed at improving productivity and competitiveness.
Alouette’s current C$474 million (US$362.5 million) modernization plan includes several facets. Among them is an initiative to upgrade pots at the site, conversion of its anode-baking furnaces from heavy oil to natural gas, integration of automatic electric production vehicles, and increased use of robotics and other forms of automation.
As a condition of the Canadian government’s grant, Alouette promised to maintain research and development expenditures of at least C$5 million (US$3.82 million) per year in the dominion.
Aluminerie Alouette was founded in Quebec in 1989 and began as a 215 thousand metric ton per annum smelter on the banks of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and was the product of a funding consortium including Austria Metall AG (AMAG), Kobe Aluminum and Marubeni of Japan, Koninklijke Hoogovens of the Netherlands, Société générale de financement (SGF), and VAW of Germany. An expansion in 2005 increased the plant’s capacity to 550 thousand metric tons per annum.