Rio Tinto says the $4.8 billion modernization project for its Kitimat aluminum smelter is complete. (Photo: Rio Tinto)Rio Tinto says the $4.8 billion modernization project for its Kitimat aluminum smelter is complete. (Photo: Rio Tinto)

Rio Tinto reported in early July that it was preparing to ship the first metal from its expanded, modernized Kitimat aluminum smelter on the northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada. The expansion has increased the smelter’s production capacity by 48%, and Rio Tinto is now ramping up to the designed production rate of 420,000 mt/y of aluminium ingot.

Cost to complete the project was approximately $4.8 billion.

The modernized smelter is powered by Rio Tinto’s wholly owned hydro power facility and incorporates the company’s proprietary AP40 smelting technology, which the company said will effectively halve the smelter’s overall emissions.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Chief Executive Alf Barrios said, “The modernization of Kitimat will fundamentally transform its performance, moving it from the fourth quartile to the first decile of the industry cost curve. At full production, Kitimat will be one of the most efficient, greenest and lowest-cost smelters in the world.

“Positioned in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, Kitimat is well placed to serve rapidly growing demand for aluminum in the Asia-Pacific region and to serve the North American market.”

The Kitimat smelter opened in 1954. Production capacity prior to the expansion was 282,000 mt/y.

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