Alcoa is a world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina, with approximately 59,000 employees in 30 countries and revenue of nearly US $24 billion in the year ending December 31, 2014. Customers are offered one-stop service in design, engineering and production through its businesses. Its aluminum products are used worldwide in aircraft, motor vehicles, containers, buildings, as well as in many industrial products and consumer goods. Alcoa is active in all major segments of the aluminum industry: research and development, mining, refining, smelting, fabrication and recycling.
In 2014, for the thirteenth consecutive year, Alcoa was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. Alcoa is recognized for its superior environmental performance and capacity to manage its environmental footprint, as well as its social and economic contribution. Alcoa Foundation, with assets of US $468 million, is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States. Since 1952, Alcoa Foundation has made annual donations to nonprofit organizations worldwide in areas which currently include the environment, empowerment, education and sustainable design.
Alcoa’s vision is to continually live its values of integrity, innovation, respect, excellence, and environment, health and safety, collaborating for the benefit of customers, investors, employees, communities and partners.
In Canada Alcoa has more than 3,700 employees in 10 plant locations, primarily in Québec. In addition to its primary aluminum operations in Québec, Alcoa manufactures aluminum components for the aerospace industry and offers a wide range of architectural systems for the construction industry.
In Québec the smelters in Baie Comeau, Bécancour and Deschambault have an annual production capacity of more than one million metric tons of ingots, rolling ingots, billets and aluminum rod. The quality and environmental management systems at all three plants are certified to ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004.
1886: Charles Martin Hall, a chemist and mineral enthusiast, invents a technology to produce aluminum.
1888: Hall and six financial partners establish the Pittsburgh Reduction Company. Commercial production of aluminum starts a few months later.
1907: Following a period of rapid growth (operations in Arkansas, Illinois, New York and Canada), the company changes its name to Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). Canadian operations are as a result conducted under the name Northern Aluminum.
1928: Alcoa spins off its Canadian assets to a new company called Alcan (Aluminum Company of Canada). Aluminum Company of America expands into numerous markets.
1998: Alcoa acquires Alumax, which owns among other assets the Deschambault smelter. In the following year Alcoa adopts the corporate name of Alcoa Inc., which better reflects its global position.
2000: Alcoa acquires Reynolds Metals Company, the world’s third largest aluminum producer. In Canada, the Baie-Comeau Smelter, 50% of the Bécancour Smelter, and the Bécancour Rod Plant become Alcoa’s property. The acquisition brings Alcoa’s participation in the Bécancour smelter to 74.95%.
Located on a rocky promontory overlooking the majestic St. Lawrence River, the Baie-Comeau Smelter has a production capacity of 282,000 metric tons of aluminum per year. There are two parts to the plant: the Söderberg plant, containing the potlines where aluminum is smelted, and the prebaked anode plant. Successively owned by the Canadian British Aluminum Company, the Reynolds Metals Company and then finally by Alcoa (since 2000), the plant was built and then expanded on four different occasions between start-up in 1957 and 1991. In addition, the Söderberg cells were upgraded in the early 1980's.
The smelter is Baie-Comeau’s biggest employer and its employees are highly involved in the community. It supports a large number of community groups and causes, including the Réserve mondiale de la Biosphère Manicouagan-Uapishka.
The plant was recognized under the St. Lawrence Action Plan for its efforts in industrial wastewater treatment. More recently, it received the Mérite Québecois de la sécurité civile for establishing an emergency readiness training program for all officials and volunteers in the Manicouagan Regional County Municipality.
Located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River in the Bécancour industrial park, the smelter, which began operation in 1986, produces 400,000 metric tons of aluminum annually in the form of rolling ingots, T-ingots (pure and alloyed) and billets. Alcoa owns 74.95% and Rio Tinto Alcan owns 25.05% of the smelter. The Bécancour Smelter achieved ISO 9002 certification in 1996 for the production of rolling ingots, T-ingots and billets. It was also certified ISO 9001:2000 for the production of rolling ingots, T-ingots and billets, and ISO 14001:2004 for the production of aluminum, including anodes and finished products, rolling ingots, T-ingots and billets.
In the last few years, the smelter has earned distinctions such as an Énergia award from the Association québecoise pour la maitrise de l'énergie. As a result of reducing annual electricity consumption by 250 gigawatt hours in 2010, the Bécancour Smelter became the first Elite member of Hydro-Québec’s Écolectrique network. The Bécancour Smelter supports a number of organizations, notably Opération Enfant Soleil, Centraide, Operation Red Nose and Centre de la Biodiversité du Québec.
Located on the Chemin du Roy, some 60 kilometres from Quebec City, the village of Deschambault-Grondines overlooks the St. Lawrence River. In 1989, the Alumax group took on the daunting challenge of building the Deschambault Smelter in an area whose fragility and value made environmental performance a top priority. Constructed at a cost of $1 billion and in operation since September 1992, the smelter reached its full capacity in 1993 with an annual production of 215,000 metric tons of aluminum T-ingots. Port facilities are at Trois-Rivières, Québec. Over the years, thanks to continuous improvements in equipment, processes and work procedures, its production capacity has climbed to 260,000 metric tons.
The smelter was the first aluminum producer in Québec to achieve ISO 9002 certification, in 1996, and the first to obtain ISO 14001 certification in Canada, in 1997. It currently holds the ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004 certifications.
The Deschambault Smelter's environmental performance is an worldwide benchmark in water management due to its zero wastewater discharge system. Also significant are its fluoride collection and treatment processes. The smelter's commitment to energy efficiency has resulted in awards from the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation and the Association québecoise pour la maîtrise de l'énergie.
Alcoa Cast Products produces castings for the aerospace industry and for defence and commercial applications. It offers its partners comprehensive solutions such as simultaneous engineering, production, machining, surface treatments and the assembly of molded aluminum parts. The Georgetown, Ontario plant specializes in small, extremely complex aluminum and copper-based castings, while the Laval, Québec plant produces aluminum investment castings of all sizes and levels of complexity using the lost wax casting process. The Laval plant has special expertise with large, high-strength, complex aluminum castings.
Kawneer Canada offers a broad range of extruded aluminum architectural systems (entrances, stock and custom doors, windows, curtain walls, and skylights). For over a century the company has been catering to the demands of its customers and meeting the needs of the commercial, institutional and industrial construction markets.
Extrusion and manufacturing operations are carried out at Kawneer Canada’s Lethbridge, Alberta facility. In addition there are service centres in Vaughan, Ontario and Pointe-Claire, Quebec.
Alcoa Canada's future is linked to the future of its communities. It is driven by the conviction that part of being the best company in the world is being the best company in its communities. Established in 1952, Alcoa Foundation is a global resource that actively invests in improving the quality of life in the countries around the world where Alcoa operates.
About half of the Foundation’s budget is directed toward its global, multi-year partnerships and programs. Partnerships are formed with academic, non-governmental and non-profit organizations for the purpose of funding fellowships, conducting research, running events and competitions, and providing training and development. Many partnerships are formed with organizations which involve Alcoa employees and retirees and their families in community activities.
The other half of the Foundation’s funding is allocated to the unique needs of the local communities in which Alcoa has its operations.
In 2012 in Québec, Alcoa Foundation awarded nearly US $725,000 in grants to 30 local and regional organizations, most of which are dedicated to the environment and to education. In addition, Alcoa Canada employees took part in numerous community and volunteer activities.
The Alcoa Sustainable Communities Fund was created in November, 2011 with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in the communities which host Alcoa's three smelters in Québec. A major focus is attracting young people to these communities through sustainability and educational initiatives. The Fund represents an annual investment of $1 million for 25 years.
The following year local funds were set up in the communities of Baie Comeau, Bécancour and Deschambault-Grondines/Portneuf. The local funds of Bécancour and Deschambault-Grondines/Portneuf are supporting the work of the municipal governments as they develop sustainability plans.
In Baie Comeau, where early sustainability initiatives inspired the establishment of the Fund, funding is being used for the development of a system of public trails in the locality and has also been earmarked for initiatives at educational institutions in the region. Funding decisions in Baie Comeau are made by a committee the members of which are drawn from constituencies across the municipality.
Aluminum is the third most abundant element on earth, making up 8% of the Earth's crust. It is one of the most valuable materials for creating and maintaining a sustainable world:
- Aluminum is almost endlessly recyclable — approximately three-quarters of the aluminum ever produced is still in use.
- Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy it would take to make new metal and, furthermore, it lessens the need for solid waste landfill sites.
- Aluminum significantly reduces the weight of vehicles. As such, each kilogram of aluminum used to replace traditional materials in the manufacture of an automobile eliminates an average of 20 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the car.
- The formability and strength of aluminum make it efficient for a wide array of applications:
○ motor vehicles — enhanced safety in the event of a vehicle collision through the use of alloys, with their superior strength and capacity to absorb energy;
○ food and beverage packaging — lighter to ship and easier to recycle;
○ architectural products — lower maintenance and stronger, more durable, and more resistant to corrosion;
○ aerospace components — safe, reliable, and cost effective air and spacecraft;
○ pharmaceutical products — improved human health and hygiene through the use of certain aluminum compounds
Since hydroelectricity makes up more than one third of the cost of aluminum production, this versatile and recyclable metal can be seen as electricity transformed. Aluminum is also a very important economic driver since each kilowatt used by Alcoa generates 10 cents worth of economic spin-offs — 24 hours a day, 12 months a year.
This value creation benefits both the regions and the Québec economy as a whole, where the aluminum industry purchases more than $1.6 billion in goods and services every year, in addition to directly and indirectly employing over 15,000 people.
The enrichment it brings is also apparent in the quality of life of the communities in which Alcoa is located. Education, community services, cultural activities and economic development all benefit from the contribution of Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation. In fact, Alcoa and sustainable development go hand in hand.