Rio Tinto Kitimat Modernization Project

In December 2011, Rio Tinto gave Notice to Proceed with the modernization of its aluminium smelter in Kitimat. The Kitimat Modernization Project (KMP) will increase the smelter's production capacity by 48 per cent to approximately 420,000 tonnes of aluminum ingot per year using the most cost effective, energy efficient and environmentally friendly technology available. Construction labour at peak (fall 2014) was approximately 3,400 including 1,000 local persons. The new smelter is expected to be in operation in the first half of 2015 and provide full-time employment for approximately 1,000.

About This Project

Rio Tinto is moving forward with a major capital investment to modernize its aluminium smelter in northwestern British Columbia as part of the Kitimat Works Modernization Project. This new investment will allow for completion of the US $4.8 billion project in the first half of 2015.

The Kitimat Modernization Project will increase the smelter's current production capacity by more than 48 per cent to approximately 420,000 tonnes per year. The modernized smelter will be powered exclusively by wholly-owned hydropower and use Rio Tinto Alcan's proprietary AP40 smelting technology to reduce the smelter's carbon dioxide emissions intensity by approximately 50 per cent.

The modernization project will secure approximately 1,000 stable, specialized jobs in BC's northwest for the long term, and 2,500 jobs during the peak period of the construction phase.

Major projects taking place on the project currently include the building of the KMP Construction Village, the cleaning and demolition of pot lines 7 & 8 at the existing smelter to make way for the new smelter footprint and the building of a massive underground utilities corridor that will provide critical services to the new facility.

"The modernization of Kitimat will transform its performance, moving it from the third quartile to the first decile of the industry cost curve, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by about half," said Jacynthe Côté, chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan. "This project draws on two of our greatest competitive advantages - clean, self-generated hydropower and leading-edge AP smelting technology. Once completed, Kitimat will be one of the most efficient and lowest-cost smelters in the world, and will better position us to serve the rapidly growing demand for aluminium in the Asia-Pacific market."

Rio Tinto Alcan’s BC Operations aluminium smelter complex is located on the Douglas Channel, a year-round ice-free ocean port, located in Kitimat, on the northwest coast of British Columbia. The smelting facility is ideally situated to meet the ever-growing aluminum market demands of Rio Tinto's customers located throughout the Pacific Rim.

The Kitimat smelter's nameplate capacity is 282,000 tonnes of aluminum per year. In addition to the aluminium smelter, Rio Tinto Alcan's assets include a world class hydro-electric power generating facility in Kemano, BC, the huge Nechako Reservoir, Kenney Dam, and Skins Lake Spillway in northcentral BC and a coke calcining plant in Edmonton, Alberta. Rio Tinto Alcan maintains Corporate Affairs and Community Relations offices in Kitimat, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Vancouver.

Rio Tinto Alcan has been a proud partner in the development of British Columbia’s northwest region for over 56 years. The company exports value-added aluminum ingot products to its customers in the Pacific Rim market. The Kitimat smelter contributes more than $500 million annually to the Canadian economy, of which more than $269 million stay in British Columbia. In addition, Rio Tinto Alcan's combined operations in BC and Alberta currently provide employment for approximately 1,400 people.

Project Status

Estimate Investment
$4.8 Billion (US) dollar upgrade

Estimated Project Start Date

Estimated Completion Date


Project Proponent

Kevin Dobbin, Manager Communities & Media
Rio Tinto

Economic Development

Rose Klukas
Director of Economic Development
District of Kitimat
Tel: 250-632-8921

Northern Development Initiative Trust

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