September 19, 2005

Alcan's proposed waste treatment plant to be subject of comprehensive study

Federal Environment Minister Stéphane Dion has decided that Alcan's proposed Spent Pot Lining (SPL) project, in Jonquière, Quebec, should undergo a comprehensive study as the most appropriate level of environmental assessment. His decision was based on the conclusions and recommendations of a report submitted by Industry Canada, the responsible federal authority.

Alcan's primary metal group, the project proponent, has developed a chemical process known as "low concentration caustic leaching and liming," which converts SPL (a byproduct of aluminum production) into non-hazardous waste and recyclable materials. The company is proposing to build and operate a pilot plant in Jonquière to demonstrate the process. The plant, with a capacity of 80,000 tonnes per year, would handle SPL from Alcan's stockpiles in Quebec, as well as from sources around the world.

Alcan is seeking funding from Industry Canada to support the construction and operation of the pilot plant; this triggered the federal environmental assessment (EA) process.

The report details the scope of Alcan's proposed SPL project, the factors to be considered by the EA, public comments submitted to the authority, the potential of the project to cause adverse environmental effects and the ability of the comprehensive study to address issues relating to the project. The document may be viewed on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry,, reference number 05-03-9911.

The next step in the EA process will be the preparation by Industry Canada of the comprehensive study, in accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The study report will be submitted to the Environment Minister, who will provide the public an opportunity to comment on the report's findings and recommendations before the Minister issues an EA decision statement.

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