Alcoa Looks to the Future in Quebec and Angola

Alcoa has approved the next phase of a five-year, $2.1-billion investment plan for its Baie-Comeau, Deschambault and Becancour smelters in Quebec and has signed a memorandum of understand-ing (MoU) with the government of Angola to explore development of a 750,000-mt/y aluminum smelter using power from hydroelectric facilities under consideration by the government.

The Quebec investment, announced November 7, 2011, is expected move the Quebec smelters down the alu-minum cost curve by 13% and to con-tribute to Alcoa's goal of achieving an overall 10% improvement in its opera-tions. The plan will also increase pro-duction capacity by 120,000 mt/y and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan includes 25-year power contracts for all three smelters and allows the aluminum smelter in Baie-Comeau to immediately undertake the last engineering phase of its modern-ization project, with plans to have a new potline in service by the end of 2015. In addition, the preliminary engineering phase of the Deschambault smelter's amperage increase project will be launched as early as the end of 2011.

As part of the modernization at Baie-Comeau, the older smelting pots using Soderberg technology will be replaced by an all-new electrolysis potline with production capacity of 160,000 mt/y. These enhancements will reduce the plant's greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. At Deschambault, amperage will increase to 405,000 amperes by 2016, increasing the plant's annual capacity by 25,000 mt/y.

Alcoa's MoU with the government of Angola was announced October 27, 2011. Under the agreement, both sides will begin a series of feasibility studies to determine the viability of the alu-minum smelter project. The MoU pro-vides for a 12-month exclusivity period to negotiate a power contract and coop-eration agreement. If the project moves forward, first metal from the smelter would be produced in 2020.

Angola has significant capacity for developing hydroelectric facilities and intends to use the capacity to attract energy-intensive industries to the coun-try, the Alcoa statement said. The coun-try has committed to allocate 1,300 MW of firm power capacity for the alu-minum industry.

"Alcoa is interested in pursuing projects that lower our cost position," Ken Wisnoski, president of Alcoa's Growth Group, said. "We believe the Angola government's proposal to pro-vide hydroelectric power offers great potential, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work together on fea-sibility studies."

As featured in Womp 2011 Vol 10 -