Energy and Mines


Rio Tinto boss lauds B.C.’s clean energy as trade advantage

Rio Tinto boss lauds B.C.’s clean energy as trade advantage
September 29
13:22 2017

A $6 billion modernization of Rio Tinto’s Kitimat aluminum smelter is paying off big. The 2014-2015 renovation project increased the smelter’s production capacity by 50% while slashing its emissions by half.

Aluminum smelting uses electrolysis, which requires massive amounts of electricity. Thanks to new technologies and B.C.’s hydropower resources, Rio Tinto’s process “create[s] less than one-third the industry average of carbon for every tonne produced,” Gervais Jacques, managing director of Atlantic operations for the company, explains.

“The combination of technological innovation and clean-renewable, reliable hydro power here in British Columbia allows us to produce aluminum with one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world at Kitimat,” said Jacques.

Even so, Canadian aluminum companies must compete with China’s output. That country’s dozens of smelters have the potential to overproduce and drive prices down. Canadian firms must leverage every advantage to thrive in the global market. A low-carbon product is one of them, according to Jacques. 

“Increasing demand for low-carbon products and regulations that encourage their use is one opportunity we expect to see emerge for our aluminum operations,” Jacques relates. “We are already starting to see our customers’ customers become more discerning than ever. They want to know where and how products are made and what impact they have on the environment.”

Read the full article in Business Vancouver.

About Author

Kate Dougherty

Kate Dougherty