Alcan Aluminum Smelter

Alma, Quebec

Alcan Aluminum Smelter
  • Project Type: Aluminum Smelter
  • Size: 230,000 sq. ft.
  • Tons of Steel: 45,000 tons (15,000 supplied by Supermetal)
  • General Contractor: Bechtel
  • 180,000 cubic meters of concrete
  • US$1.9 billion total project cost
  • 5 to 6 million man-hours were required for construction
  • At the peak of construction, 3000 people were working at the jobsite
  • Annual production capacity 400,000 metric tons
  • The plant's operating costs will be among the lowest in the world
  • Expected to generate $250 million of annual earnings for ALCAN
  • The plant will employ 700 full time workers

The new smelter's 400,000 metric ton annual capacity represents over 15% of ALCAN's total production, and nearly 2% of the entire world's annual aluminum consumption.

A World-class Facility

When the world's second largest producer of aluminum builds a new smelter, they do it on a scale that can only be called extraordinary. As part of a larger plan to replace their older smelters with larger, more efficient facilities, ALCAN made a US$1.9 billion investment to replace their aging Isle-Maligne plant with a completely new structure only a mile down the road.


The new state-of-the-art Alma smelter would be massive in every sense. A one-kilometer long potline and 432 reduction cells will produce up to 400,000 metric tons of aluminum every year. The plant will also include a casting center that will create value added ingots for the automotive industry.

Beyond size, the plant is also a showcase for efficiency, innovation and modern technology. The development of the facility was completed with direct consultation with environmental groups, local residents, and native organizations. The final result will be a smelter that is among the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly in the world. No new hydroelectric facilities will be required to run the plant, despite requiring nearly 620 megawatts of power and producing over five times more aluminum than the plant it is replacing.


Bechtel managed the project's design and development with the help of their state-of-the-art ProjectWorks® management software. All sub-contractors involved in the project were intimately linked to the information they needed through this innovative technology.


The list of companies capable of successfully developing a project of this scale was very short. At the top of this list was Bechtel, the world leader in project engineering and construction management. This venerable and innovative company was an obvious choice for bringing the Alma smelter to completion. In addition to having overseen some of the most impressive engineering projects in the world, they were especially suitable because they acted as lead engineer for three of the last four major aluminum smelters built around the world.

Facilities developed for the plant included: Power sub-station, raw material unloading and storage facilities, pot relining shop, anode plant, casting center, molten metal shipping center, closed-loop water process and environmental protection and control equipment.

Our Part in the Project's Success

Over the years, Supermetal has been a regular supplier of fabrication and erection services to ALCAN and other aluminum producers. When they announced plans for the new Alma smelter, we were excited to continue our relationship with this world class company, and honored to be playing a large role in this impressive project.

Ultimately, we fabricated and erected over 15,000 tons of structural steel for the Alma project - 1/3 of its entire steel requirements. Throughout the development process, our fabricators and erectors continually proved Supermetal's ability to meet strict deadlines, to reliably deliver exceptional service, and to quickly adjust to changes - even as the project proceeded.

Original plans set annual production capacity at 375,000 metric tons, but this was expanded to 400,000 during construction. Numerous changes were required to accommodate this expansion. To ensure changes made as few impacts as possible on production plans and scheduling, our engineering and drafting departments furiously worked to rework the design for the altered specifications.


In addition to design changes, ALCAN also made a request to Bechtel for an accelerated start up date. Considering the volatility of aluminum prices, and the size of the investment being made, ALCAN was understandably anxious to have the plant come online as soon as possible.

Bechtel proved the value of their experience by leading the hundreds of sub-contractors involved in the project to a successful completion. Though work will continue until the end of 2001, the first production of aluminum at the new plant was achieved on October 21, 2000 - only 32 months after the groundbreaking ceremony. We, at Supermetal, are proud to have had a chance to work with Bechtel and the many other extraordinary partners involved in the development of this world-class facility.

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1955, 5e rue
St. Romuald, Quebec
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Telephone: (418) 834-1955

Printed on: Friday, March 23, 2018