Workers standing near the boring machine which is 190-metres-long with a diameter of more than six metres. (Photo Supplied/Rio Tinto)

Workers standing near the boring machine which is 190-metres-long with a diameter of more than six metres. (Photo Supplied/Rio Tinto)

Rio Tinto marks a major milestone in Kemano T2 hydropower project

Tunnel boring machine cut through 7.6 kilometres of rock over the past 30 months

Rio Tinto has marked another milestone in their Kemano T2 hydropower project as the tunnel boring machine has broken through to complete its journey.

For over 30 months the machine cut through 7.6 kilometres of rock, completing the route for a 16-kilometre tunnel that was started in the early 1990s.

Rio Tinto’s hydropower project is completing a second tunnel that will carry water into the Kemano Powerhouse. The water will ensure the long-term reliability of the power supply for Rio Tinto’s B.C. Workers Smelter in Kitimat.

“Boring this tunnel is a highly skilled and technical feat that has been achieved in an extremely remote location that is only accessible by sea or air. It will ensure our operations continue to make a significant contribution to British Columbia’s economy into the future,” said Alex Jones, Kemano T2 project manager, in a media release.

The boring machine is named tl’ughus by the Cheslatta Carrier Nation. The machine was named after a legendary giant monster snake and is decorated with artwork by Haisla Nation Students.

The project is expected to be completed in the second half of 2022. The tunnel will be filled with water in the middle of the year.