Highlights 2013 and Objectives 2014
The Aluminium Association of Canada also publishes a sustainability report.
Message from the President of Alcoa Canada
A difficult year with a remarkable ending
The global aluminum industry experienced another difficult year in 2013. With high inventories worldwide and an uncertain economic recovery in several markets, aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange remained weak.
This environment led Alcoa Inc. to announce a reduction in production capacity totalling 460,000 metric tons of primary aluminum in May 2013, resulting in the early closure of the Söderberg potlines at the Baie-Comeau Smelter. In October of last year, based on the terms of our electricity supply contracts, we announced that we could be forced to cease operations at Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products smelters in Québec, unless we reached a new agreement with the Government.
Under such circumstances, a loss of motivation by our employees would have been expected. But this is not the nature of our people. On the contrary, adversity pulled us together and we delivered results in 2013 that by several measures lifted us to new heights of performance.
Three solid pillars once again
Sustainability rests on three pillars – economic, environmental and social. Although the economic component is not everything, for a business it is the determining factor because it enables operations to continue, or not. That is why we were particularly pleased to announce that a new electricity supply agreement had been reached in February 2014, consolidating our Québec operations until 2030. The agreement includes a $250 million investment for the optimization of each of our three smelters, allowing us to increase production of rolling ingot at the Baie- Comeau Smelter in response to increasing demand from the automotive industry. These announcements were met with great relief, firstly by our people, and by the communities we live and work in, since we are moving forward together towards greater sustainability.
On the environmental front, the closure of the Söderberg plant at the Baie-Comeau Smelter in September 2013 is reflected in the significant reduction in air emissions achieved this year. Combined with the efforts of our other smelters, the result is a 7% reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions in 2013. We have also reduced our fluoride emissions in a meaningful way, both at the Bécancour Smelter and in the Söderberg plant while it was still operating. With respect to energy, we continue to master efficiency, as demonstrated by the designation of each of our smelters in the Distinction category, the highest level of Hydro-Québec’s Energy Savers’ Circle, mainly by decreasing the amount of energy required to produce each ton of aluminum.
With regard to the social pillar, we reached a new agreement with employees at the Bécancour Smelter, while treating Baie- Comeau employees with the greatest of respect when they had to retire earlier than initially planned due to the advanced closure of the Söderberg potlines. Our health and safety performance is one of the best in the industrial sector, both in terms of incident frequency and severity. We remain very present in our communities, with Alcoa Foundation investing more than $1.3 million in 2013 and through the many contributions of our employees, who offered more than 25,000 hours of volunteering, an involvement that has been ongoing for the past ten years. In addition, the three Alcoa Sustainable Communities Funds announced their first investments in 2012.
A strengthened commitment
Although 2013 did not augur well, we have emerged in a strengthened position. The electricity supply agreement with the Government and Hydro-Québec provides a new start for our smelters. We can now focus on meeting the growing demand for aluminum while respecting the environment and generating major benefits for the communities where we live in and work.
President, Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products