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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

FerroAtlantica Group to build its first North America silicon plant on Quebec

PORT-CARTIER, Qc - Spanish giant FerroAtlantica announced plans Monday to build its first North American silicon metal plant on Quebec's north shore.

The $382-million investment will create 345 direct jobs in Port-Cartier.

The announcement ends months of speculation since former premier Pauline Marois said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that FerroAtlantica was considering Quebec locations for the plant, including Saguenay, Baie-Comeau and Shawinigan.

A year-round deepwater port, proximity of a railway and the availability of wood to generate energy for furnaces tipped the balance in favour of Port-Cartier.

Company president Pedro Lerrea Paguaga says the community was selected over other contenders in Quebec and across North America and will be the most competitive silicon plant in the world.

The new subsidiary, FerroQuebec, hopes to eventually produce 100,000 tonnes per year of the metal, destined mainly for the U.S. market. Silicon is used in the production of alloys for the automotive industry, in the manufacture of silicone and development of high performance concrete and in solar panels.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says the province will provide a loan at commercial rates, tax credits and commercial electricity rates, but details won't be provided until the deal closes.

The project's initial phase will cost $215 million and begins this month with the launch of an environmental impact study on the startup of three furnaces in December 2017.

About 230 jobs would be created during construction and 175 direct jobs would flow with the initial 50,000 tonnes of annual output. The second phase, to be completed by 2022, would double production to 100,000 tones.

FerroAtlantica, a subsidiary of private industrial group Villa Mir, had sales totalling 1.1 billion euros in 2012 and employed more than 3,000 people in 15 factories in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.

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