Skip to main content

Alcan Project History

The Smelter

Kitimat Constructors – a consortium of eight construction companies – received the contract for the smelter and town. The initial development for the smelter would include Potlines Nos. 1 and 2, storage and administrative buildings, wharf, and conveying facilities.

Dredging the Douglas Channel to prepare the deep-sea port was a priority in the first month of work. Huge scows dug out the ocean floor, dredging over three million cubic yards through a 24"-diameter pipe “The noise going through the pipes was terrific and a few days went by before I got accustomed to the sound.” Alcan engineer Hugh Meldrum.

“Alcan’s million dollar baby”, the natural gravel deposit at the sandhill, had an almost unlimited supply of good fill. At first, 85 gravel trucks roared back and forth to the plant site four miles away. Finally, in the spring of 1956, a conveyor belt went into operation.

A dock made from sunken caissons was invented for the smelter. This deep-sea dock was constructed using three concrete caissons, each one 250 feet long and 7,500 tons. These were built on their sides in a graving dock or cofferdam then floated to the wharf site and sunk by filling with gravel.