Blast Disrupts Rio Tinto Production At Canadian Plant

MONTREAL (CP) -- An explosion involving two electrical transformers has halved production at Rio Tinto Alcan's Laterriere aluminum smelter in Quebec.

The company's Montreal-based division is investigating the outage that occurred Tuesday, which left the plant without enough energy to operate at full capacity.

Etienne Jacques, vice-president of primary metal in the Saguenay region, said the company immediately activated its safety plan and dispatched emergency crews.

He said there were no injuries.

As a safety precaution, one of two production lines at Laterriere Works has been suspended and the smelter is operating at half its 235,000-tonne capacity.

"The cause of the incidents and the overall impact on Laterriere Works is under investigation," the company said in a statement "In the coming weeks, Rio Tinto Alcan will mobilize the necessary resources to restore the suspended line."

The Anglo-Australian parent company is one of the world's largest mining and mineral processors. Its products include aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore.

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