Rio Tinto Alcan has reopened its Kitimat aluminium smelter in Canada after completing its $3.3bn modernisation and is preparing its first shipments of metal from the facility.
According to the company, the smelter upgrade will increase production capacity by 48%.
The decision to increase production comes due to increasing demand for aluminium across the Asia Pacific region, as well as North America, Sky News reported.
Following the extensive modernisation the mining major plans to focus primarily on ramping up safely towards its production rate of 420,000t a year.
The new facility uses the company’s AP40 smelting technology and will now result in reduction of greenhouse gases, fluorides, and hydrocarbons by 36% to 98%.
Rio Tinto aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said: "The modernisation of Kitimat will fundamentally transform its performance, moving it from the fourth quartile to the first decile of the industry cost curve. At full-production, Kitimat will be one of the most efficient, greenest and lowest-cost smelters in the world.
"Positioned in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, Kitimat is well placed to serve rapidly growing demand for aluminium in the Asia-Pacific region and to serve the North American market."
In March, Unifor Local 2301 opposed the project saying that the company was allowed by province to undertake its smelter modernisation without considering the harmful sulphur dioxide emissions from it that cause respiratory and heart problems.
Image: Rio Tinto’s new facility uses the company’s AP40 smelting technology. Photo: courtesy of CNW Group/Rio Tinto Alcan – EN.