Rio Tinto Alcan announced last week it had reached a deal with West Fraser Timber to purchase the Eurocan dock.
RTA says the dock is needed for both the smelter modernisation project and ultimately to handle the increased metal production that will result with the new plant.
But mayor Joanne Monaghan is worried the purchase puts in jeopardy potential news jobs for the community.
RTA VP Paul Henning said his company first started talking to West Fraser about the dock three years ago, but that was in the context of being able to use space there during the modernisation.
The two parties were not able to work anything out and then events overtook the talks. “We realised, sadly, when the mill closed that West Fraser had a different vision,” Henning said.
Once it was clear the proposed rescue plan for the pulp and paper mill was not going to happen, RTA then approached West Fraser and, after six months, concluded the purchase deal.
Explaining the reasons RTA wanted the dock, Henning said, “The short term is all about KMP.”
And that means using the dock to bring in construction materials – one million tonnes worth – and take out some of the materials from demolition.
As for post-KMP, once the smelter is at full production it will be shipping out 1.5 to 2 million tonnes of metal a year as opposed to just over 1 million tonnes today.
At the Monday, March 14 committee of the whole meeting, Monaghan told city councillors she had talked to Henning that morning and asked if other companies would be able to use the dock, adding there were five or six companies looking at using it.
Noting “Mr. Henning was not receptive to that idea,” she said if the dock could not be used 400 potential jobs would not come to Kitimat.
Asked by councillor Mario Feldhoff what jobs those would be, she listed Cascadia (Sandhill), Pytrade and the coastal ferry service, saying there were others she couldn’t name because of confidentiality agreements.
She did however note Henning had not ruled out sharing the dock, but had said there would be conditions.
Henning told the Sentinel subsequently that RTA would review each proposal on a case-by-case basis and look for ones that fit in with RTA’s usage.
However, the ferry proposal did not fit with an industrial complex. “That one needs to look at a better alternative from a safety perspective.