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Alcoa: Closure of smelters in Quebec has no impact on Massena

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MASSENA - A spokesperson for Alcoa’s Massena operations said the company’s decision to postpone modernization at its Baie-Comeau smelter in Quebec has no impact on either of the two plants in Massena.

“Yesterday’s (Thursday) release about Baie-Comeau doesn’t have anything to do with Massena or our project. It’s about the status of that plant,” Alcoa spokesperson Laurie A. Marr said.

In a release posted Thursday on the company’s website, Alcoa announced it was postponing the planned modernization of the Baie-Comeau Smelter until 2019. The work had originally been planned for 2016.

According to the release, the reason for the announcement was “due to current market conditions.”

Ms. Marr confirmed that Soderberg potlines are also in used at Alcoa’s East plant.

“That’s why the modernization project is planned at East,” she wrote, “to “modernize the plant to more updated smelting technology.”

The two potlines in Quebec are scheduled to be closed by August.

The release indicates that the closure of those potlines as part of a review the company is conducting over the next 15 months.

That review was detailed in a release dated May 1.

“The review will include facilities across the Alcoa system and will focus on higher-cost plants and plants that have long-term risk due to factors such as energy costs or regularity uncertainty,” the release stated.

In a statement included in the May 1 release, Alcoa Global Primary Products President Chris Ayers said, “Because of persistent weakness in global aluminum prices, we need to review every option to maintain Alcoa’s competitiveness. Any action taken will only be done after a thorough strategic review and consultations with stakeholders.”

Alcoa has pledged to spend $42 million for site work and support projects that would begin in June and contribute $10 million toward economic development in the north country, money that would be distributed by NYPA, as the first phase in its modernization plan. Alcoa officials have said they have already invested $40 million in planning work for the proposed modernization project.

In exchange for modernizing, the contract guarantees Alcoa low-cost hydropower for the next 30 years, with an option to extend the contract another 10 years depending on economic conditions.

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