MRO Magazine


Alcoa invests $100M in safety, maintenance upgrades in 4 Quebec plants

The four Québec plants of Alcoa Global Primary Products – Canada (GPP Canada) will benefit from total investments of $100 million in 2011. These investments will serve to maintain and optimize these plant’s performance. Throughout the year, over 80 projects will be accomplished in order to favorably position these plants so that they will profit from the growing global demand for aluminum in the years to come.

Investments for 2011 will be as follows:

  • Operational maintenance: $52 million
  • Health and safety: $25 million
  • Cost reduction projects: $14 million
  • Environment and energy efficiency: $6 million

"Our Québec plants are benchmark facilities within Alcoa and the entire aluminum industry," underlined Pierre Morin, president of GPP Canada. "This capital projects program will ensure that the expertise of our 3,200 employees continues to shine so that we can offer the best possible products and profit from the current outlook for aluminum." He also stressed that these projects rest on the regional synergy that exists between the company’s Québec plants, a key factor in the success of this region in the Alcoa network.

These investments will involve many of Alcoa’s 1,200 suppliers and partners throughout Québec, and will thus contribute to the economic vigor of our plants’ host communities and the whole province. During the period from 2006 to 2011, close to $400 million will have been invested by GPP Canada in capital projects at its Québec facilities. This amount sets out Alcoa’s leading economic role in these communities – stimulating growth, creating wealth and prompting innovation.

These amounts do not take into account the modernization project in progress for the Baie-Comeau smelter and its wharf, already announced in 2008.

Among the initiatives to be undertaken this year are:

+ A more ergonomic and safe work environment: In 2011, $25 million will be attributed to equipment and processes designed to enhance even further the ergonomics and safety of the various tasks accomplished by plant employees in Québec. Since health and safety is one of Alcoa’s fundamental values, prevention mechanisms are constantly reassessed and enhanced as needed and following technological breakthroughs.

+ A new transformer at the Deschambault smelter: As part of operational maintenance activities, the smelter’s transformer #1 will be replaced in 2011 at the cost of $12 million. This investment follows the replacement of transformer #2 at the end of 2010, thus securing the plant’s long-term operational stability. Furthermore, the bussbars that redirect electric current to electrolytic cells will be enhanced through a new cooling mechanism.

+ Greater reliability of electrolytic cell control: The smelters in Baie-Comeau, Deschambault and Bécancour will see the implementation of innovative computer-based cell control systems offering enhanced reliability.

+ A new series of stubs at the Baie-Comeau smelter: Stubs are used to distribute electronic current through anodes. New stubs will now have the capacity to be straightened and reused, which will help achieve more efficient and sustainable processes in the long term.

According to Alcoa, global demand for aluminum should enjoy 12-percent growth in 2011. Most of the sectors using aluminum, such as the aerospace, automobile, residential and commercial construction, and beverage container industries, should fuel this demand, particularly in emerging countries.