Hatch proud to be part of award-winning team
Rio Tinto’s Kemano T2 Tunnel Project receives Tunnel Achievement Award.
Toronto, Canada—Rio Tinto’s Kemano Second Tunnel (T2) Project, for which Hatch provided design, procurement, engineering, and construction management services, has received Tunnel Business Magazine’s 2022 Tunnel Achievement Award during the Breakthroughs in Tunneling Short Course, held at the University of Denver in Colorado from September 12-14. The award recognizes projects that demonstrate innovation, teamwork, and benefits to the community. It is the first time a private-sector project has received the award.
Rio Tinto, among the largest mining companies in the world, operates the $6 billion BC Works smelter in Kitimat, BC. The smelter, which produces aluminum with one of the word’s lowest carbon footprints, is powered by a hydroelectric station located about 50 kilometers away in Kemano.
Before the second tunnel was built, the power facility drew water via a 15-km tunnel from the Nechako Reservoir. In 2017, Rio Tinto recognized the need for a backup tunnel to ensure uninterrupted power. Hatch was retained by Rio Tinto as the Engineering Procurement Construction Management (EPCM) Contractor, responsible for planning, engineering, and overseeing the implementation of the project. The Hatch team worked closely with the Owner’s team to assist in the excavation of a new 7.6 km portion of the tunnel and the refurbishing of an existing 8.4 km portion that was constructed as part of the original project. The T2 will allow Rio Tinto to conduct repairs and maintenance on the original tunnel without impacting the power supply to the smelter.
The T2 was constructed using a combination of drill and blast, and boring machine excavation in often challenging conditions. The project site, accessible only by air or water, is in a remote, mountainous area where heavy snowfalls and avalanches are common.
“There are a number of avalanche paths that have the potential for size 5 avalanches—the largest avalanche classification in the world,” explained Hatch project manager Steve Hinton. “They’re capable of destroying an entire village and traveling up to three kilometers. I’m proud to say that Hatch was able to mitigate the risks and complete the project in a safe and timely manner. Overall, our dedication and hard work exceeded Rio Tinto’s expectations.”
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