Aerial view of Kemano Kitimat

BC Works

100%

Ownership

Aluminium

Product

377Kt

Production

1954

Started

2023 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$517.6 million to the British Columbia economy in 2023, we are one of the single largest contributors to the province’s manufacturing GDP.

BC Works is 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 896 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 2 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.

A tunnel boring machine, named tl’ughus by the Cheslatta Carrier Nation after a legendary giant monster snake, cut 7.6 kilometres through the rock in remote mountains over 30 months, completing the route for a 16 kilometre tunnel that was started in the early 1990s. The project was completed in May 2022.

Tunnel boring machine break through on Kemano T2 Project
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BC Works communities

Northern British Columbia is home to many Indigenous Peoples including the Haisla Nation, whose main community is Kitamaat Village, near our smelter.

BC Works T2 Project

BC Works T2 Project Fact Sheet
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916 KB
BC Works T2 Project - Tl'ughus
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255 KB
Meet tl'ughus, our giant monster snake

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) program, 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. 

From 2019 to 2024, 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. This C$1.5 million dollar project advanced research programs in the region and provided first-hand learning opportunities for students. It included water temperature monitoring in regulated and unregulated sites across the Nechako Watershed and a comprehensive weather station in place to monitor storms, and record the temperature, humidity, snow depth, wind speed and direction, solar radiation and barometric pressure.

BC Works environmental compliance monitoring

BC Works Environmental Compliance Monitoring 2024
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271 KB

BC Works’ Sulphur Dioxide Environmental Effects Monitoring Program Consultation

Rio Tinto BC Works is conducting a consultation on its Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) Program. Launched in 2014, the SO2 EEM Program is designed to measure the amount of SO2 being produced by the smelter, monitor potential effects on human health, soil, vegetation, or lakes, and put controls in place to reduce harm to the environment. The Program is entering its third phase and the current consultation aims at answering questions, addressing concerns and gathering feedback with respect to the changes proposed to the Program.

Questions or concerns about the SO2 EEM Program or the consultation? Reach out to us at BCWorksInfo@riotinto.com.

BC Works Sulphur Dioxide Environmental Effects Monitoring Program

BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Draft V4 Plan (including Appendix A)
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1.82 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Draft V4 - Appendices B-D
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4.13 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Synopsis
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5.4 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Wind Correction Addendum
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8.27 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Comment Tracking Table
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480 KB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Comprehensive Review - Synopsis
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5.41 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Program
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring 2022 Annual Report
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17.72 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Program Phase 3 Plan
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101.25 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Program 2019 - Terms of Reference
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789 KB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring Program 2019 - Terms of Reference Summary
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12.72 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring 2018 Annual Report
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4.02 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring 2017 Annual Report
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14.29 MB
BC Works SO2 Environmental Effects Monitoring 2017 Annual Report
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2.56 MB
BC Works SO2 Technical Assessment
BC Works SO2 Technical Assessment Volume 1
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4.32 MB
BC Works SO2 Technical Assessment Volume 2
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19.65 MB
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Nechako Reservoir

The Nechako Reservoir provides stable, low cost, green hydro-electric power to energise the Kitimat smelter.

BC Works downloads

BC Works Communities and Social Performance Reports (formerly Sustainability Reports)
BC Works Communities and Social Performance Report 2023
PDF
1.03 MB
BC Works Sustainability Report 2022
PDF
4.32 MB
BC Works Sustainability Report 2021
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3.05 MB
BC Works Sustainability Report 2019
PDF
1.59 MB
BC Works Environmental Reports
BC Works Environmental Report 2023
PDF
8.59 MB
BC Works Environmental Report 2022
PDF
9.82 MB
BC Works Environmental Report 2021
PDF
6.63 MB
BC Works Environmental Report 2020
PDF
6.43 MB
BC Works Environmental Report 2019
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7.53 MB
BC Works Environmental Report 2018
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4.66 MB
BC Works Environmental Report 2017
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4.08 MB
BC Works other reports
BC Works Sustainability Report 2021
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3.05 MB
BC Works Sustainability Report 2019
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1.59 MB
BC Works Sustainability Scorecard 2018
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839 KB
BC Works Terminal A Construction Water Quality Annual/Closure Report
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2.03 MB
BC Works brochures
Invested in Canada: British Columbia
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1.54 MB
Investis au Canada: Colombie-Britannique [FR]
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1.47 MB
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Careers

Discover more about life at Rio Tinto.

Contact BC Works

Kitimat Community Office

PO Box 1800
1 Smeltersite Road
Kitimat BC V8C 2H2, Canada

E: BC Works Enquiries
T: +1 250 639 8383

Burns Lake Office

PO Box 936
Unit 3B, 321 Highway
16 Evergreen Mall BC VOJ 1E0
Canada

E: Nechako Reservoir Enquiries
T: +1 250 692 9618

Vanderhoof Office

PO Box 25
158 Stewart Street
Vanderhoof BC V0J 3A0, Canada

E: Nechako Reservoir Enquiries
T: +1 250 692 9618

Warehouse

T: +1 250 639 8601
T: +1 250 639 8446

Plant Protection

+1 250 639 8273