Rio Tinto Alcan executives and two pioneer retirees who joined the company in 1954 cut the ceremonial cake.

Rio Tinto Alcan celebrates 60 years

Rio Tinto Alcan executives and two pioneer retirees who joined the company in 1954 cut the ceremonial cake

Rio Tinto Alcan executives and two pioneer retirees who joined the company in 1954 cut the ceremonial cake.

In 1954 Rio Tinto Alcan began operating its Kitimat aluminium smelter and Kemano power operations after embarking on what was then the largest engineering and construction project ever undertaken by private enterprise in Canada.

With a historic peak annual capacity of 282,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, the Kitimat smelter was one of B.C.’s largest industrial facilities and it required infrastructure that to this day is among the most impressive of their kind in the world.

The Kemano power station, which provides clean and renewable hydro power to the smelter, is fed by a 16-km power tunnel deep beneath the Coastal Mountains.

After 60 years in operation, the Kitimat smelter operation is at the brink of a new era. It is currently undergoing a major modernization project, which is once again one of B.C.’s largest current private investments. The project will increase aluminium production capacity by 48 per cent to approximately 420,000 tonnes per year while reducing overall environmental emissions by nearly 50 per cent.