Rio Tinto marks 70 years of operations in Kitimat

03 June 2024
Kitimat, CANADA – Rio Tinto is marking the 70th anniversary of its BC Works operation, celebrating seven decades of significant contributions to the aluminium industry and the Kitimat community. As the only aluminium smelter operator in British Columbia, Rio Tinto has established itself as a cornerstone of the local economy and a leader in responsible high-quality aluminium production.

Rio Tinto BC Works General Manager Simon Pascoe said: "As we celebrate 70 years of operations, we reflect on our rich history and the strong relationships we've built with the community. For the occasion, we paused to contemplate our journey, acknowledging the transformations undergone along the way and our enduring legacy. As future generations are upon us, we remain dedicated to the production of high quality, responsible low-carbon aluminium, while continuing to build authentic relationships with communities, the union, and business partners, all of which play a significant role in the sustainability of our smelter."

To mark the 70th anniversary, Rio Tinto hosted a grand celebration on 1 June at the Kitimat smelter site, with more than 1,800 attendees including four generations of employees and retirees. The event, which featured bus tours of the smelter operations, live music, kiosks and displays, inflatable games, and a photobooth, served as a heartfelt thank you to employees, business partners and the community. Attendees also had the opportunity to learn about the responsible low-carbon aluminium production process and Rio Tinto’s commitment to maintaining high-quality standards.

Coinciding with the start of National Indigenous History Month, the celebratory event also featured the unveiling of a special commemorative structure by Haisla artist Paul Windsor. Crafted from aluminium, the totem symbolizes unity, adorned with two of the original Haisla traditional Clan Crests: the Beaver at the base and the Eagle at the apex. In its center stands the representation of an Elder. This project aims to highlight the intricate connection between the shared history and the profound significance of Rio Tinto’s relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Notes to editors

Rio Tinto’s BC Works operation in Kitimat, British Columbia, comprises an aluminium smelter and the Kemano Powerhouse, a hydropower facility supplied by the Nechako reservoir. 

Since its inception, Kitimat has been dedicated to producing high-quality aluminium to the highest international standards, supporting the global energy transition and driving decarbonization. The smelter's impact extends beyond production; in 2023 alone, it contributed $517 million to the British Columbia economy and invested $3.2 million in local community initiatives. With 1,100 employees and 400 indirect contractors in Kitimat, Rio Tinto remains a vital economic engine and community partner.

The Kemano and Kitimat operations were energized on July 15th, 1954. On August 3, 1954, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, along with A.W. Whitaker, Vice President and General Manager and R.E. Powell, President of Alcan Canada presided over the ceremonial pour of the first aluminum produced at Kitimat. 

Please direct all enquiries to

Media Relations
Vanessa Damha
M +1 514 715 2152

Rio Tinto plc

6 St James’s Square
London SW1Y 4AD
United Kingdom
T +44 20 7781 2000

Registered in England
No. 719885

Rio Tinto Limited

Level 43, 120 Collins Street
Melbourne 3000
T +61 3 9283 3333

Registered in Australia
ABN 96 004 458 404

Category: BC Works