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Alcoa’s ABI halts 6063 billet production

Keywords: Tags  Alcoa, ABI, aluminum billet, 6063, USW, Suzy Waite

LONDON — Alcoa Inc.’s Aluminerie de Beacancour Inc. (ABI) smelter in Quebec has temporarily halted 6063 billet production, sources familiar with the facility told AMM.

The short-term production stoppage is due to the slow changing of anodes, which has led to high iron content, sources said.

The 400,000-tonne-per-year smelter is still producing 6061 billet, one source said.

T-bar production, which stopped earlier in November (, Nov. 19), also remains down.

"We are continuing to meet the needs of our customers," an Alcoa spokeswoman said, declining to comment further.

A consumer confirmed that he’s already received all of his December orders from ABI.

"We’ve got most of our deliveries this month (from ABI) because of the holidays. It’s the time of year when we get metal early. People don’t want shipments too close to Christmas," the consumer said. "We have been told to watch out for off-grade material, though."

The market doesn’t expect the outage to affect prices, for now, since the plant has met its order obligations.

"I know that all of ABI’s billet (shipments) for November and December have been provided, so there (have) been no issues in terms of supply," a trader added.

Of the 400,000 tonnes of aluminum produced at ABI, roughly 150,000 tonnes is made into billet, sources said.

The North American billet market is paying close attention to developments at ABI as negotiations on a labor contract covering some 900 workers there have been ongoing have been ongoing since Sept. 11. Talks between the Pittsburgh-based producer and the United Steelworkers union have yet to reach a conclusion despite the contract’s expiration late last month (, Nov. 28).

"Talks are still going on. (They) worked over the weekend. People are putting in a lot of time and effort to come to an agreement," a USW representative said, declining to offer details from the talks.

Producers and consumers fear that if no resolution comes from the discussions and either a strike or lockout ensues, North American billet—already in tight supply for most of the year—will be even more limited in 2013.

In anticipation of either a lockout or a strike, the union began parking trailers in front of the smelter in November (, Nov. 13).

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