Tag Archives: Kitimat

Rio Tinto increases ‘responsibly produced aluminium’ drive

Rio Tinto says it is now offering independently certified “responsibly produced aluminium” from all of its Canada operations, with the extension of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative’s (ASI) Chain of Custody certification to include the BC Works smelter and Kemano Power Operations in Kitimat, British Columbia.

The certification reinforces Rio Tinto’s commitment to responsible mining and metals production by providing independent verification that material can be traced through a ‘chain of custody’ spanning Rio Tinto’s Gove bauxite mine, in Australia, to its alumina refinery, aluminium smelters and casthouses in Quebec and British Columbia, Canada, it said.

Rio explained: “ASI certification means customers can be assured the aluminium purchased through Rio Tinto’s Canadian operations has been produced to the highest environmental, social and governance standards. Rio Tinto has led the establishment of responsible production certification for the aluminium industry as a founding member of the ASI, working alongside customers and a broad range of stakeholders.”

In 2018, Rio Tinto was the first company to receive the ASI’s first Performance Standard certification – the highest internationally recognised standard for robust environmental, social and governance practices – and Chain of Custody certification, covering five aluminium smelters, the Vaudreuil refinery, casting centres, port and railway facilities in Quebec, Canada. The BC Works smelter and Kemano Power Operations received certification against the Performance Standard in January 2019 and have now been included in the Chain of Custody certification. Rio Tinto is now working with the ASI on audits and certifications for other sites in its global aluminium business.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Vice President Sales and Marketing and ASI Board member, Tolga Egrilmezer, said: “This certification continues Rio Tinto’s leadership on responsible production. It increases the availability of ASI certified aluminium in a range of markets, giving customers the ability to offer end consumers products made with aluminium that meets the highest sustainability standards.”

ASI chief executive officer, Fiona Solomon, said: “This successful Chain of Custody certification demonstrates ASI’s potential to create impact through voluntary uptake of its program. We are seeing the positive upstream examples like this one now extending into downstream aluminium use sectors such as automotive, construction and packaging, and this is very encouraging.”

The ASI is a global, multi-stakeholder, non-profit standards setting and certification organisation. It works toward responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium following an entire value chain approach. ASI launched its Performance Standard and Chain of Custody Standard in December 2017. ASI’s 60+ members include leading civil society organisations, companies with activities in bauxite mining, alumina refining, aluminium smelting, semi-fabrication, product and component manufacturing, as well as consumer and commercial goods, including the automotive industry, construction and packaging, as well as industry associations and other supporters.

Variable rock mass pushes Rio off course at Oyu Tolgoi Underground project

Rio Tinto has said completion of the Oyu Tolgoi underground copper-gold mine, in Mongolia, could be delayed for several months as detailed geotechnical data has revealed the rock mass is more variable than previously envisaged.

Oyu Tolgoi Underground is Rio’s major copper growth project. When the underground mine is fully ramped up, the existing open pit and underground, combined, are expected to produce more than 500,000 t/y of copper.

In Rio’s 2018 results, the company said the underground project continued to progress last year with the construction of critical above- and below-ground infrastructure. Detailed engineering design work and overall construction progress was mostly on track, with the main focus, in 2018, being on underground lateral development, the fit out of shaft 2 (the main production shaft), support infrastructure and the convey-to-surface decline.

Recent achievements at the operation, owned 66% by Turquoise Hill Resources (THR) and 34% by the Mongolian government, with Rio Tinto holding a majority stake in THR, include the completion of the overland conveyor connecting shaft 2 to the coarse ore stockpile, significant progress on the second underground crusher and the expansion of the central heating plant, Rio said.

“Overall, the underground lateral development has been proceeding well, with a total of 19 km achieved at the end of January 2019, against our second annual reforecast target of 19.8 km,” Rio said.

But, for the second quarterly report in a row, Rio flagged delays in completing the underground project.

“With the structural, mechanical and electrical fitout of shaft 2, it is now clear that the completion of this technically complex installation and commissioning work will be delayed by several months,” Rio said. “Delayed completion of the shaft, which provides additional hoist capacity to accelerate lateral development, will further delay the date we reach sustainable production beyond the nine-month delay indicated in October 2018.”

Back then, difficult ground conditions had slowed progress in some areas of the underground development, but, as the lateral development has continued, Rio said it had learnt more about the rock mass around and under the orebody and has access to more detailed geotechnical data than was available from surface drilling.

“This data reveals there are areas of the mine footprint where the strength of the rock mass is more variable than anticipated in the feasibility study,” Rio said. “This will require some potentially significant changes to the design of some future elements of the development and the development schedule.”

Detailed design work is now underway as is the work necessary to estimate the impact on cost and schedule from these changes and the delay in commissioning shaft 2, Rio said, while admitting that first production was unlikely to occur in the September quarter of 2021 as previously guided.

There were still many positive development takeaways from the mining major’s 2018 results, in addition to the record $13.5 billion it returned to shareholders as part of last year’s operational performance.

This included, among others, an update on the Kemano hydropower project in Kitimat, British Columbia, and the latest on AutoHaul™, the world’s first automated heavy-haul, long distance rail network.

On the former, a $500 million project in its aluminium business where Rio is constructing a required second tunnel at its hydropower facility, the company said it was expecting to complete the project by late-2020.

It will supply the Kemano powerhouse with water from the Nachako Reservoir, creating a back up to the original tunnel built over 60 years ago.

“We completed the starter tunnel in December 2018 and began boring the main tunnel in January 2019,” it said.

The company is carrying out this excavation with a 1,300-t tunnel boring machine (pictured) that will dig 7.6 km of tunnel through a mountain as part of a project to enhance the long-term security of a clean power supply for the BC Works aluminium smelter.

On AutoHaul, Rio said, in December 2018, it successfully deployed the autonomous rail network.

“Since completing the first autonomous haulage run in July 2018, we have steadily increased the number of driverless journeys, with more than 1.6 million km travelled autonomously in 2018,” Rio said.

The programme is now focused on optimising autonomous operations, according to Rio.

Rio Tinto starts up TBM at Kemano Second Tunnel project in Canada

Rio Tinto, together with the Cheslatta Carrier and Haisla First Nations, has celebrated the launch of the tl’ughus tunnel boring machine, a key milestone towards completing the Kemano Second Tunnel project for the BC Works aluminium smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia.

The 1,300 t machine was named by the Cheslatta Carrier nation after a giant snake that, according to legend, once bored through the mountains and landscape around the nearby Nachako Reservoir.

It will dig 7.6 km of tunnel through a mountain as part of a C$600 million ($458 million) project to enhance the long-term security of a clean power supply for the BC Works smelter.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Managing Director Altantic Operations, Gervais Jacques said: “Launching the tl’ughus in partnership with the Cheslatta Carrier and Haisla First Nations is an important milestone for our world-class aluminium operations in British Columbia. Our smelter in Kitimat produces some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium and this project will enhance the long-term security of its supply of clean, renewable hydropower.”

Construction of the Kemano Second Tunnel project is expected to be complete in 2020. It will supply the Kemano powerhouse with water from the Nachako Reservoir, creating a back up to the original tunnel built over 60 years ago.

Frontier Kemper Aecon has been selected as the main contractor for the project, with Hatch being the EPCM. Herrenknecht has supplied the TBM.

The project will see some 250,000 m³ of tunnel rock excavated by the tl’ughus, while 8.4 km of an existing portion of the second tunnel (excavated in the 1990s) will be refurbished.

Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2013 to coincide with the Kitimat Modernisation project and involved construction of interconnections to the existing portion of the second tunnel.

The Cheslatta Nation selected the name for the tunnel boring machine – tl’ughus – as it shares many parallels with the Kemano second tunnel project, according to Rio.

Kitimat produced 433,000 t of aluminium last year, up from 408,000 t in 2016 and 110,000 t in 2015.