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REPORTING · 6th February 2012
Walter McFarlane
Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) held their 2012 contractor forum on February 2nd. It was an opportunity for Contractors and the media to learn about what was coming in 2012, look back on the successes of 2011 and engage the local contractors.

“The purpose of the meeting today is to look at, what did we achieve in 2011 and we did achieve a lot of good work. All of you and all of us have achieved great work. In [2011], you all have proven how a local community, local contractors can be a big part of this project and you will still be a big part of this project in the future,” said Michel Lamarre, Rio Tinto Alcan Project Director.

Safety and weather were hot topics during the forum. Paul Henning, Vice President of Rio Tinto Alcan’s BC Operations and Strategic Products stressed an improving safety record is one of the key factors in this project. RTA is always talking about what can be done better and what can improve. Lamarre stated Zero harm includes Zero harm to Environment in Kitimat as well.

The project had six recordable injuries in 2011. 13 of the 17 contractors worked injury free. They are working their way to zero harm but this is a journey to reach the goal and it’s the journey which matters most. Money is donated to local charities based on the hours worked injury free.

An award was given to the Site Contractor of the Year for 2011. It was given to the company who had the least incidents compared to hours worked. This award was given to RSK who completed their work with zero harm. Charlene Peirier accepted the Aluminium Moose.

Weather wise, weather was used for humour but was also quite serious as well. A safety message included a reflection on the cold snap and the wind temperatures which shut the site down a few weeks ago. However, this shutdown also showed RTA how to improve working conditions so teams are better prepared for a cold snap in the future.

Sage Connolly joked about the rain which fell through the fall in 2010, but it did not slow down the local workers. He also mentioned the sun came out when Jack Oviatt broke out the excavator.

Reflecting back on successes, the first thing mentioned was the permission to proceed on 3.3 billion on the 1st of December. They talked about how the number of contractors has tripled in size since they began.

2009 was a slow year. In 2010, things picked up. RTA did work on electrical and cladding. The weather held through out the year and even though the good weather ended everything was done on time. A rise was built as was the entrance for the construction village.

In 2011, things were not so lucky with the weather. The workers worked on the infrastructure for the camp. The camp itself started construction in May and is around 64% complete. There was some work done on earthworks and there was a lot of demolitions. Then there was a lot of work done on small jobs.

The work which has been is preparing the ground for the modernization. RTA has trained the contractors and built relations with the unions. It was not all physical work. Work was also done to obtain the permits and solve an environmental issue with the government of BC.

Anything which has been demolished has also been sent for testing and properly disposed of. This includes the dust which has built up in the old pot rooms for many years.

Spending for 2011 was broken down into three zones. Kitimat and Terrace received $34 million in spending, Northwest BC received 80 million and the rest of BC received $158 million. $264 million was spent all together.

Looking at 2012 and beyond, Richard Blais stated the target for pouring the first concrete for the new pot lines is June 1st of this year. Lamarre stated they are looking for the production of first metal in the second quarter of 2014.

The challenges for 2012 are continuing the quest for zero harm and finalizing the early works program which is relocation and demolition. This program is running 6-8 weeks behind though.

The camp is going to be made into a self contained facility with a Barbecue Area and Recreation Centre going in later this year.

RTA is buying a lot of materials in preparation for the modernization. There are four contract packages for the project, Earthworks, First Concrete, Steel Erection and Pile Driving. There is an estimate there will be 2,200 at the peak of the project in the last quarter of 2012.

Another goal is completing the underground utility corridor, which will be a 3000 metre long tunnel which circles the entire site and it has to be done before the new buildings are started.

One of the big topics was the aspect of Local Employment. Patrick Casey stated 2011 was a good year for local employment. An employment coordinator joined the team in February, 2011. The coordinator has handled 1000 local resumes from Kitimat and Terrace. RTA is working to make sure the local workers have the skills and training so they can fulfill the requirements of the contract.

Training has been done through KVI, HBO and the unions. This training has lead to 120 more people having jobs and 600 local jobs total. They want to do better in 2012 and reach 1000 local jobs. Blais stated 62% of the workers were local, 27% were from BC, 5% from the rest of Canada and 6% were from outside of Canada.

Hiring will be increasing from March to May. The camp will be moving into its second phase at the end of February. Lamarre pointed out they have been able to maximize local participation so far with 200 people in the camp, although they have room for 400.

Henning concluded his statement by telling the contractors they were what this project was all about, working with local businesses. He thanked them for all the work they did on the project.

Two Contracts were talked about in the morning session. One was for fabrication and this contract went to Kitimat Iron Works. Supplying the Concrete for the Kitimat Modernization Project was Kentron.

The contractors were treated to a tour of the construction camp over lunch and the afternoon was about the contracts which will become available in 2012.