Vaudreuil 2022 ― Phase I

Extending operations at Canada's only alumina refinery beyond 2022

Rio Tinto Aluminum (RTA) | Canada | 2016-2019

2020 Award of Excellence 

Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards

Costs were 30% below the PFS estimate

First red mud was filtered 4 weeks ahead of schedule

Zero lost-time injuries

Challenges

  • Vaudreuil Works refinery is the largest centre of inorganic chemistry in Canada, converting bauxite, shipped from overseas, into alumina. Vaudreuil uses the "Bayer Process" and stores the discarded bauxite residue in a residue disposal area (RDA).
  • The bauxite RDA is limited and this constraint was a significant obstacle to extending the life of the Vaudreuil plant beyond 2022.
  • Rio Tinto wanted to investigate an optimum alternative to closing the refinery with the best NPV/CAPEX trade-off.
  • The priority was an engineering project that would ensure the plant’s viability. The objectives was to achieve filtered residue with a solids content of more than 70%.
  • Rio Tinto’s goals for the project were to reduce the project’s cost while achieving the baseline schedule, reducing operational risks, and achieving zero harm.

Solutions

  • Rio Tinto engaged Hatch to provide full engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) services up to Pre-Operational Verifications (POV), from Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) to final delivery. Rio Tinto was responsible for commissioning.
  • Our team was responsible for construction, safety, contract administration, and POV activities on site, working as an integrated team with Rio Tinto’s functional managers and commissioning personnel.
  • Since the residue disposal area capacity was a constraint to the expansion of the operational life of the plant, the project scope entailed expanding or opening a new disposal area for bauxite residue with at least 70% solids content. The phase 1 project scope included transporting the residue (via pipelines) to a residue filtration facility, and the residue disposal to existing RDA sites by conveyor.
  • By selecting industrial filtration, a new bauxite residue dewatering technique, the team was able to utilize dry stacking for the residue storage, reducing the site’s geographic footprint and its residue processing time. This project represents the most environmentally-friendly technology in the alumina industry to date.
  • In June 2019, the client asked Hatch to accelerate delivery of the first filtered residue, to assist operations. The result: the first red mud was filtered on October 24, 2019―four weeks ahead of the baseline deterministic schedule. One of the critical milestones in achieving this schedule was the completion of the electrical room in the filtration plant. 

Highlights

  • Recognized by the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards with an Award of Excellence in 2020.
  • With dry stacking technology, the Vaudreuil plant is a world leader in the filtration industry for bauxite residue and similar materials. It has been recognized as one of the best alumina plants in the world for greenhouse gas emissions, and the second-most energy efficient.
  • Through an integrated team approach, the project was delivered 4 weeks ahead of schedule and without any lost-time injuries for approximately 550,000 hours worked (500,000 on site).
  • A strong change management program was adopted and embraced by the team throughout the project. As a result, the project’s total installed costs were 30% below RTA’s original FEL2 estimate, surpassing value improvement targets.
  • The phase 1 project has generated CDN$120M in economic benefits for local companies that have supported the project’s procurement, engineering, and construction efforts. With the extension of the life of the facility beyond 2022―approximately 18 additional years―the refinery will not only continue to support jobs in the region, but it will open the door for other projects and the potential valorization of its residue.

“Everything started during the bid clarification meeting four years ago... it was undoubtedly very clear from each Hatch representative that teamwork and partnership were fully integrated values. Since then, Hatch's team delivered beyond expectations on all fronts on VB2022 project: on safety: 0 recordable after close to 400k man-hours thanks to strong leadership in the field, focusing on identifying risks and unsafe situations while partnering with contractors to reach common goals. On cost and schedule: accurate, transparent, proactive controls implemented, backed up with strong experienced people, which led to beating baseline schedule and under running the original budget. Integrated team principles are not just sales pitch words...they are true values embedded in each Hatch employee.”

Tony Wieczorek | Project Delivery Manager SCS – Sustaining Capital, Rio Tinto

The integrated team of Rio Tinto, Voltam, and Hatch celebrated the delivery and implementation of the filtration plant modular substation in June 2019. Click here to watch the video.

The Vaudreuil 2022 phase 1 project proudly completed the work by achieving zero harm over 500,000 onsite worked hours. Click here to watch the video.

Project numbers

1.5M tonnes per year of alumina
Expansion added 18 additional years to the life of the refinery

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