Rio Tinto Alcan to shed 1,100 jobs, cut production and close plant

Rio Tinto Alcan in Canada has announced that it will shed 1,100 jobs, reduce aluminum production by 25 per cent at its big Vaudreuil alumina plant in the Saguenay and permanently shutdown its aging Beauharnois smelter near Montreal, due to a staggering collapse in demand for aluminum globally.

The Montreal-based company unveiled a new round of production and job cuts yesterday, and said that it will also cut back on aluminum production by 6 per cent or 230,000 metric tonnes, bringing its total reductions to 11 per or 450,000 metric tonnes since September.

About 800 employees and 300 contract workers will be laid off including 300 in Canada, of which 220 jobs will be lost at the Beauharnois smelter in Quebec that will be shut permanently.

Opened in 1943, the Beauharnois smelter located in southwest of Montreal, employs 220 people, with annual production of 52,000 tonnes. Since it used outdated Soderberg technology, the plant was to be phased out by 2015 to meet environmental regulations.

The Vaudreuil alumina plant in the Saguenay will reduce output by 25 per cent or 400,000 tonnes from its annual capacity is 1.6 million tonnes. It is the main supplier to Alcan's primary smelters in the region.

Jacynthe Côté, the new chief executive officer of Rio Tinto Alcan who is supposed to take charge on 1 February had to undertake the unpleasant task of axing jobs and curtailing production.