Rio Tinto to add 225-MW turbine to Quebec’s 896-MW Shipshaw

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd. announced Oct. 28 it will invest C$296 million (US$228 million) to construct a new 225-MW high-efficiency turbine at Rio Tinto Alcan’s 896-MW Shipshaw hydroelectric project in Saguenay, Quebec.

The Shipshaw powerhouse is a major component of Rio Tinto Alcan’s hydroelectric network, which features a total installed capacity of about 2,900 MW in Quebec.

The new unit will replace four turbine-generators at the 77-year-old, 224-MW Chute-a-Caron project, promoting more efficient water use. It is expected to begin service in 2012.

Rio Tinto agreed in 2007 to buy Canada’s Alcan Inc. for C$49 billion (US$38.1 billion). (HNN 7/13/07) At that time, it reiterated it would maintain Alcan’s commitment to invest some C$2.6 billion (US$2 billion) in Quebec expansion projects and manage waterways on which it produces electricity for its smelters.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said the modernization and upgrading of Shipshaw underscores the importance the company places on secure, competitively priced energy resources. He added Rio Tinto remains committed to sustainable, value-creating investments in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Prior to purchase by Rio Tinto, Alcan started engineering work for the new Shipshaw turbine as part of a planned 10-year C$2.3 billion (US$1.8 billion) investment in company facilities in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Region.

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