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Rio Tinto breaks major milestone in Kemano T2 hydropower project in northern B.C.

Tunnel boring machine cut through 7.6 kilometres of rock over the past 30 months
Workers standing near the boring machine which is 190-metres-long with a diameter of more than six metres. (Photo Supplied/Rio Tinto)

Rio Tinto has marked another milestone in their Kemano T2 hydropower project as the tunnel boring machine has broken through to complete its journey.

The machine which started its journey in the early 1990s has been cutting through rock to create a second tunnel to carry water into the Kemano Powerhouse. The water will ensure the long-term reliability of the power supply for Rio Tinto’s B.C. Workers Smelter in Kitimat.

For over 30 months the machine cut through 7.6 kilometres of rock, completing the route for a 16-kilometre tunnel.

“Boring this tunnel is a highly skilled and technical feat that has been achieved in an extremely remote location that is only accessible by sea or air. It will ensure our operations continue to make a significant contribution to British Columbia’s economy into the future,” said Alex Jones, Kemano T2 project manager, in a media release.

The boring machine is named tl’ughus by the Cheslatta Carrier Nation. The machine was named after a legendary giant monster snake and is decorated with artwork by Haisla Nation students.

The project is expected to be completed in the second half of 2022. The tunnel will be filled with water in the middle of the year.

Christian Aspostolovsky

About the Author: Christian Aspostolovsky

Born and raised in Kitchener Ontario before I found my way up to northwest B.C. working at a small radio station as a news reporter.
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