January 21, 2009

Canada’s Alcan aluminum cuts 1,100 jobs

Canadian aluminum giant Rio Tinto Alcan announced production cuts and 1,100 job layoffs due to falling demand and bottomed-out prices.

Among the cuts is the permanent closure of the Beauharnois smelter in Quebec, which employs 220 people, the company said in a statement from its Montreal headquarters.

Incoming Chief Executive Officer Jacynthe Cote told the Financial Post current prices for aluminum are about 60 cents a pound, down from $1.50 last summer. She estimated more than two-thirds of aluminum operations around the world are losing money.

Global demand for aluminum, particularly from China, has plummeted. Aluminum is used to make drink cans, bicycles, window frames and siding, the report said.

The Globe and Mail said Alcan has now cut 11 percent of its manufacturing capacity, while its U.S. rival Alcoa Inc. has scaled back 18 percent.

Two other Alcan Quebec smelters in Shawinigan and Saguenay are also scheduled to close by 2015 to comply with environmental regulations, the Globe said.