• SCOPE OF WORK

    Engineering, procurement, and construction

  • VALUE

    More than $1 billion

  • SCHEDULE

    2004–2007

  • BUSINESS

    Mining & Metals

Aluminum: A shining key to Iceland’s economy

Bechtel carved out a job site alongside a glacier-fed fjord by the Norwegian Sea in order to construct Alcoa’s first primary smelter in 20 years. Fjarðaál was the largest private investment in Iceland’s history and Bechtel’s first experience in the island nation near the Arctic Circle. 

Designed as a zero-waste-to-landfill project, the Fjarðaál smelter is among the most environmentally sustainable facilities of its kind. Mirroring our customer’s environmental commitment, Bechtel worked closely with vendors and suppliers to ensure the return of reusable materials, and we contracted with local firms for recycling. Ultimately, more than 90 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills. For our efforts, Bechtel earned Iceland's highest environmental award, the Conch.

This great achievement does not only matter for the companies involved but for Iceland as a whole and the future of construction in this country.

Valgerður Sverrisdóttir, Iceland's minister of industry and commerce

  • Fjarðaál marked Bechtel’s first experience in Iceland
  • The site has views of the northern lights in spring and fall, almost perpetual daylight during summer, but only a few hours of daily sun in the winter
  • Team members heading to work
  • Bechtel carved out a jobsite near the Norwegian Sea to build the environmentally-sustainable facility
  • We developed a plan to build the potroom roof from indoor platforms to avoid exposing workers to the 90 mph (145 km) winds outside
  • Bechtel achieved 1 million consecutive hours of work without a lost-time incident
  • An aerial view of construction progress at Fjarðaál, Alcoa’s first primary smelter in 20 years
  • Fjarðaál was the largest private investment in Iceland’s history
  • Bechtel’s efforts, which included diverting over 90 percent of construction waste from landfills, earned us Iceland's highest environmental award, the Conch

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On the safe side

Working with the East Iceland Medical Directorate, local and Polish physicians, and first responders, Bechtel assembled emergency and on-site primary care services with round-the-clock health care access for workers. 

Bechtel achieved 1 million consecutive job hours without a lost-time incident.

Which way the wind blows

At times, Iceland’s coastal winds reached 90 miles (145 kilometers) per hour, shutting down crane operations and other work. We couldn’t stop the wind, but we planned for it by assembling modules on the ground and even purchased entire buildings preassembled, so we could put them in place as weather allowed. We developed an innovative construction plan to erect Fjarðaál’s potroom roof from platforms indoors to avoid exposing ironworkers to the howling gusts outside.

A world of contrasts

From the smelter there are spectacular views of the northern lights in spring and fall. In summer, there is almost perpetual daylight. But it can be a desolate place in winter, when the sun peers over the horizon for only a few hours each day.