Mountains in Kemano area, BC Works

BC Works

Aluminium

Product

1,100

Employees

385KT

Production

100%

Ownership

1954

Started

2019 figures

British Columbia

Our BC Works operation, in Kitimat, British Columbia, comprises a newly modernised aluminium smelter and the Kemano Powerhouse, a hydropower facility supplied by the Nechako reservoir. From Canada’s west coast, we transport our products by ship and rail, primarily to customers in Japan, South Korea and the United States.

With a total contribution of over C$533 million to the British Columbia economy in 2018, we are one of the single largest contributors to the province’s manufacturing GDP.

In 2019, BC Works was certified by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) for producing aluminium to the highest internationally recognised standard for responsible environmental, social and governance practices.

  • BC Works smelter
    Our smelter
    Our aluminium smelter is one of the most efficient, lowest-cost smelters in the world, powered exclusively by clean, renewable hydropower.
  • BC Works from the air
    Other infrastructure
    Kitimat is powered by the 1,000 MW capacity Kemano Powerhouse. The Nechako Reservoir provides water for stable, low-cost, hydropower for the Kitimat smelter. An 80km transmission line carries power from Kemano to the smelter in Kitimat. Our operations in Kitimat also include an ice-free deep sea port and two private terminals. 

Investing in the Future

When BC Works opened in 1954, it was the world’s largest smelter powered by hydroelectricity. Today, following a C$6 billion investment to modernise the smelter, the aluminium we produce here has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. The upgrade, completed in 2016, included installing smelting equipment that uses our state-of-the-art AP Technology, making BC Works not only more efficient and commercially competitive but also cleaner: we now produce twice as much aluminium as we did previously, with half the greenhouse gas emissions. 

Benefits of the modernised smelter, one of the largest private construction projects in British Columbia’s history, include:

  • energy efficiency
  • leading-edge digital monitoring and computer control systems
  • revolutionary efficiency and performance in dry scrubbing (cleaning) systems
  • high levels of material recovery to maximise raw material yield and recycling opportunities 

Our Kemano Powerhouse receives water from the Nechako Reservoir via a single tunnel that is more than 65 years old, and is even today the largest high-pressure hydropower generation facility in North America. In 2017, we announced an investment of C$600 million in a second tunnel at Kemano to ensure that the power to our smelter remains secure and sustainable. We expect the Kemano Second Tunnel (T2) Project to be completed in 2021.

One team, one vision: Building the Kitimat Modernisation Project

Environment

In 1999, BC Works became the first industrial facility in British Columbia to obtain what is called a “multi-media environmental permit” from the provincial government. This permit sets standards of operation and requires annual reporting on a variety of performance measures: air emissions, ambient air quality, effluents, groundwater, vegetation and waste management. The yearly performance of the smelter is published in our operation’s Annual Environmental Report.

We are focused on minimising the impacts of our operation on the environment. Our Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) programme, which is based on an Adaptive Management Approach that commits us to extensive monitoring, regular reporting and taking measurable actions, as needed, monitors and reports on sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from our smelter. 

We also host a consultation community group, the Kitimat Public Advisory Committee (KPAC), which meets on a quarterly basis and reviews BC Works’ environmental performance and business operations.

In 2019, we partnered with the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) to establish the NSERC/Rio Tinto Senior Industrial Research Chair in Climate Change and Water Security, advancing research programmes in the region and providing first-hand learning opportunities for students. We are also a founding member of the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative, which researches and monitors the endangered White Sturgeon, aiming to stabilise the remaining population and prevent further declines, with the ultimate goal of rebuilding a self-sustaining population. 

Meet tl'ughus, our giant monster snake