Balance sheet on the global aluminium industry: Quebec must ensure that it possesses the means to remain a world leader in the production and processing of aluminium
Montreal, June 4, 2014 – At the culmination of the first Canadian International Aluminium Conference (CIAC), the Aluminium Association of Canada (AAC) offered several conclusions and reflections by some of the world’s experts during several panel discussions held Tuesday and Wednesday in Montreal.
The participants confirmed that the Quebec aluminium industry remained a global leader notably due to its productivity and efficiency, all the while stressing that its position is threatened by increased international competition. To continue to take full advantage of the opportunities created by the need for new products and in innovative technologies in a global marketplace in full expansion, Quebec industry must continue to develop its catalogue of finished products and pursue its advanced research and development activities. Meanwhile, the war of nerves continues to establish itself at the level of production costs and in particular those for energy.
“We have noted a strong expansion in the demand for aluminium in North America, fed primarily by the automotive sector. If the industry does not want to widen the deficit of the availability of North American-produced aluminium, then it must increase its production capacity and expand to ensure this proper growth,” said Jesus Villegas, President of Harbor Aluminium Intelligence.
“In effect, we must increase our annual production capacity by some five million tonnes in the face of new global opportunities and to meet the increasing demand for innovative and sustainable products. The place of our industry should be comforted by the future national strategy of the aluminium industry that the Quebec government plans to establish rapidly,” added Jean Simard, President and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada (AAC).
Global economic and trade agreement with the European Union
During his address, Pierre Marc Johnson, former Quebec Premier and chief negotiator for the government of Quebec for the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, mentioned some new business opportunities that will be available for the industry. This agreement will improve access to niche markets and the development of partnerships, all the while simplifying entry on the European market and the mobility of capital, he indicated.
Adapting to climate change
A part of the discussion turned toward the reduction of carbon emissions in materials processing.
Liza Leclerc, a specialist in adapting to climate change for the Ouranos consortium and Jean-Christophe Amado, Director of sustainable Development, Deloitte, recalled that climate change is a reality to consider all throughout the production chain, from bauxite mines to final consumption and this in each region of the world. They emphasized that the industry must continue to adapt and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as seizing the opportunities offered to it such as expanded applications of aluminium in transportation.
Innovative aluminium applications
The conference also studied examples of innovation in the processing and applications of aluminium for which the Quebec industry has distinguished itself. They include infrastructures, roadway transportation, public transit and private transport, or even in aerospace, several sectors that come to depend on innovations based on the usage of aluminium. One specific example is the SORA, which was demonstrated for CIAC attendees; the first all-electric, 100 % Quebec-produced motorcycle. Also there was a prototype of an automobile – propelled by a new battery developed within the framework of a partnership in innovation between Alcoa and Phinergy and working with air and aluminium while emitting zero pollutants – which went for distances of 1600 km on one charge or some three times the average of electric cars currently on the market.
About the CIAC
The Canadian International Aluminium Conference (CIAC) – an initiative of the Aluminium Association of Canada (AAC) in collaboration with its partners Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan and Aluminerie Alouette, met in Montreal June 2-4 and brought together top global experts to discuss all matters aluminium. The conference discussed best practices, innovation, sustainable development and other strategic topics with interest to decision-makers, hiring contractors, operators and suppliers in the industry, as well as industrial users.
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Director of communications programs
Canadian International Aluminium Conference (CIAC)
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