OPINION: Rio Tinto’s century-old Quebec aluminum smelter is living on borrowed time – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – May 10, 2023)


Canada’s aluminum industry got its start in the Quebec town that U.S. industrialist Arthur Vining Davis built in the 1920s. A century later, Arvida – its name derived from the first letters of its founder’s name – is living on borrowed time.

The life of the Arvida aluminum smelter that opened in 1926, now owned by Rio Tinto, has been repeatedly extended in recent decades as the Quebec government reissued its operating permits even though the smelter belches out pollutants that far exceed provincial norms.

For Quebec, it has all been about protecting hundreds of jobs in the remote Saguenay region; for Rio Tinto, the plant has remained a profitable asset that has paid for itself several times over.

Arivda, the town, has rich history in more ways than one. A model of early 20th-century urban planning, it was the envy of much of Canada during its early years. The town was amalgamated into its neighbour, Jonquière, in 1975 and rolled into the City of Saguenay in 2002.

For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-rio-tintos-century-old-quebec-aluminum-smelter-is-living-on-borrowed/