Spanish-owned Grupo FerroAtlantica says it will invest $382-million to build its first North American silicon metal plant in Port-Cartier, Que., on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.

The company, one of the world’s largest producers of silicon metal, has been in talks with the Quebec government over the proposed industrial development project.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the province will provide a loan at commercial rates along with tax credits and commercial electricity rates, but details won't be provided until the deal closes.

The company initially began negotiations with the former Parti Québécois government, but the deal was announced today.

It's estimated that the plant, set to begin operations in late 2016, will bring 345 jobs to Quebec’s North Shore region.

The project's initial phase will cost $215 million and begins this month with the launch of an environmental impact study on the startup of three furnaces in December 2017.

Demand growing for silicon metal

The factory is to produce 100,000 tonnes annually of silicon metal, which is used in aluminum alloys to make them strong and light.  Silicon metal is also used in construction of solar panels.

FerroAtlantica said it will sell primarily to the North American market.

Port-Cartier was chosen because it is easily accessible by boat, train and truck and has readily available wood products, which will be used in the production process, according to the company.

FerroAtlantica is a unit of Spain’s Villar Mir group, which is already active in Quebec through its OHL construction subsidiary, which is building the University of Montreal Hospital Centre.

With files from the Canadian Press