Rio Tinto has given the green light to an additional US$2.7 billion capital investment to modernise its aluminium smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia. This new investment will allow for completion of the US$3.3 billion project in 2014.
The Kitimat modernisation project will increase the smelter’s current production capacity by more than 48 per cent to approximately 420,000 tonnes per year. First metal is expected to come on st ream in the first half of 2014, with an expected ramp up of nine months. The modernised 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 modernisation 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.”
Jean Simon, president, Primary Metal, Rio Tinto Alcan, said “For nearly 60 years, the smelter has been a major impetus for the economic development of northwest British Columbia. We are very proud to announce this US$2.7 billion investment to complete the modernisation project. This is one of the largest private investments in B.C.’s history, and it will ensure the sustainability of the aluminium business in Kitimat for decades to come.”
The modernisation project will secure approximately 1,000 stable, specialised jobs in B.C.’s northwest for the long term, and 2,500 jobs during the peak period of the construction phase.