When Alcoa elected to build Fjarðaál, its first primary smelter in 20 years, the company aimed to install an environmentally conscious plant alongside a glacier-fed fjord in Iceland. With capacity of 346,000 metric tons per year, the project represented the largest private investment in the nation’s history.
To help execute this project, which would face numerous challenges posed by the harsh climate, Alcoa appointed Bechtel as the prime contractor. Alcoa celebrated the formal opening of the smelter, completed on schedule and on budget in less than three years after breaking ground. The finished Fjarðaál created approximately 400 jobs.
Protecting a unique location
Bechtel worked in close collaboration with Alcoa to design the zero-waste-to-landfill project, which resulted in Fjarðaál being among the most environmentally sustainable facilities of its kind. In order to ensure our customer could meet its commitments, Bechtel worked with vendors and suppliers to guarantee the return of reusable materials and contracted local firms for recycling. Ultimately, more than 90 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills and no process water was discharged into the nearby fjord.
For our efforts, Bechtel earned Iceland's highest environmental award, the Conch, which honors companies that contribute to environmental protection.