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REPORTING · 27th September 2014
Walter McFarlane
Rio Tinto Alcan celebrated their 60th anniversary on September 12th and 13th. It was an opportunity for workers of Rio Tinto Alcan and their family members to get together to play, eat, enjoy music and have fun. The festivities began on Friday night, September 12th with an opening reception which included Rio Tinto Alcan senior officials, pioneers, employees and community leaders.

“To our employees, our retirees and their families, to all members of Kitimat, Kitamaat Village and all the communities of Northern British Columbia who have supported Rio Tinto Alcan for the years, Thank you,” said Rio Tinto Alcan CEO Arnaud Soirat on Friday night.

“I feel honoured to be the guy at the helm of the BC Operations as we mark this much anticipated milestone,” said Gaby Poirier, General Manager of BC Operations for Rio Tinto Alcan and Master of Ceremonies for the event. “It is because of your accomplishments that we are celebrating tonight.”

“60 years ago, Alcan laid the foundation for an industry first, and for a community to grow and prosper” said Etienne Jacques, Chief Operating Officer Primary Metal North America. “[Today], Rio Tinto Alcan is no longer the sole provider but we stand ready to do our part as we have always done, as a member of a larger community working together to meet the challenges of change. That is why we are very confident that the new smelter when it is commissioned next year, will be one of the best in the world.”

He expressed they expect to see first metal in the first half of 2015 and the new smelter will last another 60 years.

“It is impossible to speak about Kitimat without mentioning Rio Tinto Alcan. The town came into existence in the 1950’s after the Provincial Government of BC invited Alcan to develop their Aluminium Smelter in this community. The Company has recruited employees from around the world and provided them with steady employment and the opportunity to realize their own personal dreams and the chance to start a new life in a peaceful progressive community,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan.

Deputy Mayor of Terrace, Brian Downie stated they appreciate the role which Rio Tinto Alcan has taken and all they have done for their community. “When you think of the 60 years of history this company brings to the region, you can’t help but be impressed. Alcan and now Rio Tinto Alcan have had such a dramatic, positive impact in the communities of Kitimat and Terrace and throughout the region over the years,” said Downie.

He said the modernization project would provide stable employment for the families of this region for years to come. Downing stated Rio Tinto Alcan is an example of how a major corporation can be a part of a region and a community.

“This, indeed, is a great historic night. I think sometimes we think of history, we think of really old textbooks in socials class. But really, we all live history. It’s right around us, and no more so then what we are celebrating today. When you consider what was here 60 years ago, the Haisla were here for thousands of years, there really wasn’t much around,” said MLA Robin Austin. “The decision to take a river and use water and bring people here and bring manufacturing to a part of British Columbia that didn’t have anything is why this whole northwest Region has prospered.”

He expressed he toured the modernization and the smelter will be an extraordinary achievement. He thanked Rio Tinto for their investment and the people who have made it so successful. He expressed good will for the next 60 years.

Several of Kitimat’s pioneers were present to be recognized at the ceremonies. “These people came from all over the world to build the original Alcan Project here on BC’s North Coast and, obviously, decided to make their homes here to this day,” said Poirier.

The Spirit of the Kitlope Dancers performed at the reception as well.

The event was also a time to reminisce on the origins of Rio Tinto Alcan Project, it’s massive undertaking and it’s many years of history in Kitimat.

“The Kitimat / Kemano Project was a giant step forward in the development of Canada and it’s Aluminium industry,” said Soirat. He explained It opened up access to the Asian markets for first time.

“The Kitimat / Kemano Story is an expanded vision, drive and confidence of each individual working for and with Rio Tinto Alcan over the past 60 years,” said Soirat. “We all have to be inspired by the accomplishments of those who built this industry here, the accomplishments of those who sustained it, and to those who meet the future with commitment and determination.”
Kitimat Pioneers take to the forefront to be recognized
Kitimat Pioneers take to the forefront to be recognized
Ruthless Rio
Comment by Ralph Bartel on 29th September 2014
One need only research the history of Rio's treatment of their workforce around the world to see what our community is truly in for. Once this project is complete and all the bugs are ironed out in the operation.....well let's just say I'm concerned for what is going to happen to the local workforce and our community. Just seeing how they treat the workforce now can only make one wonder what may be in store.
rta reality
Comment by kitimat first on 27th September 2014
i find it quite interesting how gabby poirer and his legion of doom make Rio Tinto sound like its the best place on earth in which to work for 7 years Rio Tinto has done nothing but disrespect and lied to its employees and try to distance it self from Kitimat, and for 7 years there has been negativity and sour feelings in the Kitimat smelter with no regard for its number one asset...its employees, union and non-union alike court cases or not, it was Kitimats (BC's) right and responsibility to challenge Rio Tinto on water rights...we lost and moved on, Rio Tinto still hasn't gotten over it and is punishing its employees and community it says it loves...Alcan appreciated and loved its employees and community and the northwest as a whole, Rio Tinto is the big bully down the street who thinks they can do whatever with impunity. i appreciate the employment at RTA but with all the sour feelings and negativity in the smelter it definitely hasn't been a good place to work the last 7 years . the low employee attendance for this function should be a barometer for my statements !