Canada’s Aluminum Valley is a two-hour drive north of Quebec City, in the region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. Five aluminum smelters along a 50-mile stretch of the Saguenay River account for almost half of Canada’s aluminum production.
This has residents here following negotiations between Canada and the United States over a new North American Free Trade Agreement especially closely, with hopes an accord will clear the way to lifting tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in place since June.
The first smelter opened in this region in 1926 was built by Americans, attracted by plentiful hydroelectricity. The adjoining company town was named Arvida, after industrialist Arthur Vining Davis. The structures from the Arvida smelter are still part of the large Jonquière Complex, which includes two of the smelters and a refinery.
“My uncles, my father, we had generations of extended family at the Jonquière Complex,” said Alain Gagnon. He started as a machine operator in 1983 and is now president of the National Syndicate of Aluminum Workers of Arvida.
“The situation with President Trump,” he observed, “has recently brought uncertainty to the region.” After months of threats, the United States imposed a 10 percent import tariff on Canadian aluminum in June. This region’s smelters are now all owned by the multinational Rio Tinto. Last year, they produced 1.2 million tons of primary aluminum, with 80 percent for export to the United States.
For the rest of this article: https://www.marketplace.org/2018/09/17/economy/canadas-aluminum-valley-grapples-us