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This article is about the company prior to takeover by Rio Tinto. For the present company, see Rio Tinto Alcan. For the French writer, see Eugène Alcan.

Alcan was a Canadian mining company and aluminium manufacturer. It was founded in 1902 as the Northern Aluminium Company, Limited, renamed Aluminium Company of Canada, Limited in 1925, and Alcan Aluminium Limited in 1966. It took the name Alcan Incorporated in 2001. During that time, it grew to become one of the world’s largest aluminium manufacturers.

Alcan was purchased by Australian/European multinational Rio Tinto for $38 billion in 2007, becoming Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. in 2008. It was headquartered in Montreal, Canada, in its Maison Alcan complex.[1]


The Northern Aluminium Company Limited was founded in 1902, in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada, as part of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company. In 1913, the company opened a kitchen utensil production plant and foundry in Toronto. It opened a rolling mill in the plant a few years later.

During the First World War (1914–18), aluminium production shot to 131,000 tonnes from 69,000.[2]

In 1925, the company was renamed the Aluminium Company of Canada. The Aluminium Company of Canada was responsible for rapid development in Arvida, today a part of the city of Saguenay in Quebec, by contributing to the construction of major ports and railway facilities. It began production at its sheet rolling and extrusion facility in Ontario in 1940.[3]

In 1931, the Northern Aluminium Co. Ltd. or Alcan Industries Ltd. pig and rolled Aluminium factory was opened on land acquired in 1929 on the east of the Southam road, in the then hamlet of Hardwick. The various Alcan facilities on the 53-acre site closed between 2006 and 2007. The factory was demolished between 2008 and 2009. The laboratory was also closed in 2004 and demolished in 2009.

In 1945, the Aluminium Company of Canada was officially registered under the trade name Alcan.[4] In 1951, it initiated a $500-million project at Kitimat, British Columbia, the largest public-private partnership ever introduced in Canada at the time.[5]

In 1994 Alcan sold their building products unit (with a plant in Scarborough, Ontario) to Genstar Capital Corporation and the location later closed and demolished.

Between 1998 and 2001, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean became the largest construction site in North America, as Alcan undertook a $3-billion construction project in Alma with a yearly production capacity of 400,000 metric tonnes. In 2000, Alcan acquired Algroup (Alusuisse Group Ltd.), merging the companies to become Alcan, Inc. in 2001. Alcan became the second biggest primary aluminium production company. It then became the world's largest aluminium manufacturer in 2004 after acquiring the Pechiney Group, the fourth player in worldwide production and fabrication of aluminium and the number 3 in packaging.[6]


In 2007, Rio Tinto acquired Alcan Inc., after a US$38 billion deal. Rio Tinto became the world’s leading aluminum producer. Rio Tinto quickly announced its intention to sell off the Engineered Products and Packaging business groups.[6] Alcan Incorporated was amalgamated with Rio Tinto Canada Holding Incorporated and renamed Rio Tinto Alcan Incorporated in 2008.[7]

In 2010, Alcan Packaging was sold to Amcor, Alcan Composites was sold to Schweiter Technologies, and Alcan Food Packaging was sold to Bemis.[8]

In 2011, Rio Tinto received a binding offer from Apollo Global Management and FSI (Fonds stratégique d'investissement) to acquire 51% and 10% respectively of Alcan Engineered Products (excluding Cable). Rio Tinto retains 39%.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Maison Alcan. Lonely Planet.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Jean Simard. "Home - Dialogue Sur L'Aluminium". Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  3. ^ Jean Simard. "Home - Dialogue Sur L'Aluminium". Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  4. ^ Jean Simard. "Home - Dialogue Sur L'Aluminium". Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  5. ^ Jean Simard. "Home - Dialogue Sur L'Aluminium". Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  6. ^ Jean Simard. "Home - Dialogue Sur L'Aluminium". Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  7. ^ "Media releases - Rio Tinto Offer for Alcan - additional shares acquired". Rio Tinto. Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  8. ^ "DOJ Requires Divestiture For Amcor's $2B Alcan Buy". Law360. Retrieved 2016-04-23. 

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