54°0'31"N | 128°41'57"W

Kitimat Aluminum Smelter Modernization, British Columbia, Canada Overview

Scope of Work Engineering, procurement, and project and construction management
Value $3.3 billion
Business Mining & Metals

Modernization improves safety and productivity, cuts emissions

winter constructionBechtel is modernizing Rio Tinto Alcan’s 60-year-old Kitimat aluminum smelter in British Columbia. The modernization will create an environmentally superior, safer, and more productive smelter, elevating Rio Tinto Alcan’s British Columbia operation to world-class status.

The modernization employs the latest evolution in Rio Tinto Alcan’s state-of-the-art APTM technology and will boost production to about 400,000 tons per year. Further, the effort will reduce emissions by nearly 50 percent, including some 500,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually.

The expansion project also includes a 287,000-watt (287-kilovolt) switching substation. Aluminum smelters require massive amounts of electricity, and Kitimat’s is generated cleanly by its own hydroelectric power system in nearby Kemano (tunnels for which were also built by Bechtel). After the modernization, Rio Tinto Alcan’s AP™ Technology will reduce the smelter’s overall emissions intensity by nearly half. 

Inside the project

The modernized smelter will increase production capacity by 40 percent—to 400,000 tons per year. Kitimat’s new potline will consist of 360 pots housed in six buildings, compared with the current smelter’s 900 smaller pots in 15 buildings

What's a potline?

A long building that houses a series of pots (large electrolytic cells) that produce aluminum. Potlines can be quite massive; some stretch three-quarters of a mile (more than a kilometer).

The team at Kitimat

workersThe modernized smelter will bring major economic benefits to Kitimat and the surrounding region. With the effort of more than 2,000 personnel, the modernized smelter will produce first aluminum in 2015.