Our Operations

Rio Tinto BC Works

For more than 65 years, we have been working with communities in northwest British Columbia to produce some of the world’s lowest carbon footprint aluminium.

We are committed to operating a sustainable business that reflects the world around us. Our modernised smelter in Kitimat incorporates leading technology and is considered one of the cleanest, most efficient and competitive smelters in the world.

We are also investing in improvements to our assets in the Nechako Region to ensure our operations continue to deliver benefits to our host communities for decades to come.

We are striving to be world class in all that we do, and that includes the way we engage with our people and communities about our operations.

Did you know?

We are completing a second tunnel to carry water into the Kemano Powerhouse, to ensure the long-term reliability of the power supply for Rio Tinto’s BC Works smelter in Kitimat. Our tunnel boring machine, tl’ughus, recently finished its journey to complete the 16 kilometre tunnel to the powerhouse. Watch a video about this milestone.

Nechako Reservoir 

The Kemano Powerhouse that powers the Kitimat smelter with clean energy, receives water from the Nechako Reservoir.

We know we must manage this precious resource carefully, and in doing so, we are committed to working closely with our communities for whom the Nechako Reservoir is so important.

The hydroelectric reservoir was formed by the construction of the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River and nine smaller dams which inundated a chain of lakes and rivers. The Nechako Reservoir finished filling in 1957, and is 233 km long, with a water surface of 910 km².

In 2017, we announced an investment of C$600 million to build a second tunnel at Kemano to ensure that the power to our smelter remains secure and sustainable. We expect the Kemano Second Tunnel (T2) Project to be completed in 2022.

Lowest Carbon Aluminium 

Aluminium will play a key role in the transition to a low-carbon future. Lightweight and infinitely recyclable , it’s found in everything from jet engines to electric vehicles to mobile phones.

Sustainably produced aluminium is a material of choice to reduce carbon and increase recycling across a wide range of end products. 

Our aluminium – Renewal™ – has a CO2 footprint three times lower than the industry average and is helping to provide a cleaner start to the lifecycle of products that are fabricated using aluminium.

In 2018, our BC Works operation became the first to be granted the aluminium industry’s certification by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI). Today, all of our aluminium operations across Canada are certified to the industry’s highest standards for responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium. 

The first batch of low carbon ingots made from the modernised smelter in Kitimat.