Alma, Saguenay

Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean Communities

Our Regional Economic Development (RED) team helps local partners in four areas: aluminium fabrication, equipment manufacturing, innovation, and economic diversification.

From 2004-19, through RED, we invested C$90 million in Québec in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, creating or maintaining 2,500 jobs and supporting more than 200 projects and businesses. For example, RED helped repurpose former smelter sites. At one such site – Beauharnois – for example, we supported the launch of OVHcloud, a global cloud computing company, which is today one of the largest specialised website hosting providers in the world, with 360,000 servers on site. In Shawinigan, another such site, we helped to create the Center of Excellence in Energy Efficiency (C3E), aimed at commercialising innovative, energy-efficient transportation technologies.

We invest in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean in other ways. 

For example, the Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund contributes to the region's non-profit organisations in five areas: First Nations, education, environment, health and well-being, and community. We partner with AlloProf to improve education in communities across Québec, an initiative that offers interactive study sessions to 400,000 students in the province. And CRÉPAS (Conseil régional de prévention de l'abandon scolaire du Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean), which the Fund also supports, works with teachers and educators to help young people throughout their journey to graduation.

Our business also plays an important role in the region’s economy. For example, we are investing C$250 million to extend the life of our Vaudreuil refinery, using industry-leading filter press technology and dry stacking to ensure it can continue to supply our aluminium smelting operations, support more than 1,000 jobs and generate significant economic benefits for the region. At our Arvida smelter, we are extending operations beyond 2020 with an investment of C$200 million. And at Alma, we are investing C$209 million to better position it to meet the demands of the future.

C$125M

Taxes & Royalties

C$1.2M

Local Procurement

C$14.5M 

Community Investment (Québec)

2018 figures

 
  • Protecting the Communities Around Lac-Saint-Jean
  • Cultural Heritage

Protecting the Communities around Lac-Saint-Jean

Lac-Saint-Jean and its tributaries are part of an extensive watershed system totalling 73,848 km2, or almost one third of the size of the United Kingdom. The lake is an important part of the lifestyle for the 5,000 residents of the area, an important tourist attraction and also one of our three reservoirs to produce hydropower used to operate our smelters.

Flooding can be a challenge for both the operations and the surrounding communities. We control around one quarter of the inflows to Lac-Saint-Jean through our facilities, with the remaining water coming into the lake uncontrolled. During the floods of 2017, the Québec Government acknowledged our role in upstream management, with the Minister for Public Security at the time stating that “It could have been a lot worse without the preventive management of the upstream dams”. 

For the past three decades, we have implemented the Shoreline Protection Programme, which aims to mitigate the impact of shoreline erosion. As of 2018, the programme includes a Sustainable Management Council, reflecting our shared intent to work more closely with the First Nations Mashteuiatsh, local government, and community representatives such as environment organisations. 

Cultural Heritage

In 2000, we signed a mutual respect agreement with the Mashteuiatsh, also known as the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan, from the Innu Nation – the only First Nations community in the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region.   

In keeping with our Statement of Commitment for Indigenous Peoples and our obligations under the Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund, we invested C$2.5 million in the First Nations Culture Pavilion in 2016. Located at the Université de Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC) campus in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, this pavilion is dedicated to the protection and promotion of First Nations culture.

Every year, we also partner with the Mashteuiatsh on various initiatives such as taking part in the annual Pow Wow, also known as the Great Gathering of First Nations, where people gather to honour and perpetuate their culture and traditions. We also support education initiatives for First Nations through the provincial congress on First Nations’ academic perseverance and success, and Pathways to Education, a programme that helps students graduate from high school.