It plans to invest in more than 80 capital projects to profit from the growing global demand for aluminum.

More than half of the spending will be directed at operational maintenance, while $25M will be spent on health and safety projects, $14M to reduce costs and $6M on environment and energy efficiency.

Pierre Morin, president of Alcoa Global Primary Products Canada, said the Quebec plants are ‘benchmark facilities’ within the company and the industry.

"This capital projects programme will ensure that the expertise of our 3200 employees continues to shine so that we can offer the best possible products and profit from the current outlook for aluminum," he said.

Projects include $25M to improve the ergonomics and safety of plant employees.

Alcoa said the Deschambault smelter's long-term operational stability will be assured with the replacement of a transformer for $12M. Another transformer was replaced at the end of 2010.

Bussbars that redirect electric current to electrolytic cells will also be enhanced through a new cooling mechanism.

The reliability of smelters in Baie-Comeau, Deschambault and Becancour will be improved with the addition of new computer-based cell control systems.

The Baie-Comeau smelter will also receive a new series of stubs, used to distribute electronic current through anodes. The new stubs will now have the capacity to be straightened and reused, which will help achieve more efficient and sustainable processes in the long term.

Alcoa's three smelters and the Becancour Rod Plants have 1Mt/y of production.

Alcoa expects that global aluminum demand should increase by 12% this year. It will be fuelled by increased use in sectors such as aerospace, automobile, residential and commercial construction, and beverage containers, particularly in emerging countries.