Rio Tinto has completed ramping-up production at its 420,000 tonne modernized aluminium smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia and the plant is now operating at full capacity.
Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said: “Kitimat is a world class aluminium plant, and I would like to thank all the people that have made this milestone possible, especially our employees. I am particularly proud that this project was delivered with a world-class safety record, which is our number one priority at Rio Tinto. Our leading-edge technology will reduce total emissions by around 50 per cent while aluminium production increases by 48 per cent. Kitimat is now one of the lowest-cost and most efficient aluminium production facilities in the world, with operating costs in the first decile of the industry cost curve. The plant is powered exclusively by Rio Tinto’s wholly owned clean and renewable hydro power meaning that Rio Tinto will produce some of the world’s most responsible aluminium with the lowest carbon footprint at Kitimat. Kitimat is well-positioned to serve growing demand in North American and Asian markets from its ideal location in Northwestern British Columbia for decades to come. The improvements at Kitimat are in line with our aim of generating industry-leading performance for our shareholders.”
The Kitimat aluminium smelter began production in 1954 and has over 900 employees. A major modernization project to replace the original smelter was completed in June 2015. Following a gradual ramp-up of production, the plant reached full capacity on 29 March 2016.