The year 2021 marks an important milestone in the history of Rio Tinto’s Power Operations, as it celebrates 95 years of hydropower production. The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, a natural gem, was the perfect place for Power Operations to develop its hydropower potential. The Isle-Maligne Power Station was built for this purpose on the Grande Décharge River in Alma and started operating in 1926, shortly before aluminium production began in Arvida.
Ninety-five years later, there is no doubt that the proud, pioneering employees have made an essential and decisive contribution to the economic and industrial development of the region, and today produce a competitive and low-carbon footprint aluminium that is renowned throughout the world.
To meet the growing demand for aluminium over time and during the Second World War, the number of hydropower projects grew, and new power stations were built. Stéphane Larouche, Director of Operations at Power Operations, said, “History is still in the making today—we are producing green and renewable energy on account of growing demand; we also have a vision for the power stations of the future and are working hard to modernise our Isle-Maligne Power Station to ensure the long-term viability of our operations.”
In honour of Power Operation’s 95th anniversary, Rio Tinto, with the participation of the Société d’histoire du Lac-Saint-Jean, created the Power Operations timeline that can now be found in each of the power stations as well as at the entrance to the outdoor Odyssée des Bâtisseurs pedestrian path on Avenue du Pont Nord in Alma. “With the installation of this aluminium timeline that we are sharing with the public, we are commemorating our 95 years of history, which each of our employees continues to enrich,” added Larouche. “It makes us proud to see how far we have come, from generation to generation. I would like to thank all the employees and retirees for their commitment to playing a key role in keeping our operations running.”
Joanie Dubé, Advisor, Communities and Communications at Power Operations, said, “The Isle-Maligne Power Station is in the neighbourhood of the same name, right in the middle of the community. It seemed only fitting that we call on the Société d’histoire du Lac-Saint-Jean to celebrate the 95th anniversary of hydropower production at the station, which is also the starting point for our aluminium production in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.”
In addition to historical information posted weekly on social media, a contest was held, giving Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean residents a chance to win an annual family membership to the Société d’histoire du Lac-Saint-Jean, as well as an old-fashioned aluminium lunch box that was designed by a local company. In addition, all Power Operations employees received their own lunch box personalised with their name, a meaningful symbol for this anniversary.
To learn more, visit the history page of the Power Operations website where, among other things, you can browse through the electronic version of the pictorial timeline.