Minister defends preferential electricity rates for Alcoa

PHOTO: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Quebec Minister of Natural Resources, Martine Ouellet, defended the agreement unveiled yesterday between the government and Alcoa for preferential electricity rates granted to multinationals.

"Alcoa already had individual contracts. With the current context of aluminum prices , which went from an average of $2,600 per tonne in 2008 to $1,700 per tonne today, with the surplus of aluminum, we have worked to keep jobs, especially in Baie-Comeau," said the minister.

Ouelllet emphasized that aluminum has always enjoyed a special status within Quebec.

Last year, as a result of changes in the global aluminum market, Alcoa exercised a clause in its contract with the Quebec government to end the agreement.

"The plant in Baie-Comeau was very high risk," explained Ouellet.

The government is hoping that the new 15-year agreement signed with Alcoa is long enough to allow aluminum prices to recover.

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