The stars are aligned and point to a resolution at Kitimat

Jul 30, 2008 | 11:40 AM |

Kitimat is a sparsely populated town on the rugged coast of northern British Columbia that's about 1,000 miles from nowhere, yet the name is familiar to anyone who has ever followed the Canadian metals industry or has courageously tried to chart supply trends for the aluminum market.

Kitimat has one big claim to fame an aluminum smelter that's been at the center of controversy for what seems like an eternity.

The Rio Tinto Alcan-owned smelter has sparked a lot of debate over the years in part because the project also encompasses water rights that allow the company to make oodles of cash by selling surplus power from hydroelectric generation facilities. The smelter is in serious need of an upgrade and its aluminum output could be substantially increased, but court cases and political wrangling seem to be continually getting in the way.

The saga of Kitimat has had many twists and turns and there could be more coming, but it appears we'll soon know whether the 54-year-old smelter will get the green light for an expansion that should finally put a lot of uncertainty to rest.....

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