Peace River Hydro Partners visits Charlie Lake students

Local students from Charlie Lake Elementary School learn about the roadheader used to drill the diversion tunnels, during a presentation from PRHP

In November, Peace River Hydro Partners visited Charlie Lake Elementary School to talk to students and teachers about the two diversion tunnels we are building at Site C.

The students learned what a roadheader is, where the drill comes from, the drilling process, and exactly how large the diversion tunnels are. The students also took part in a naming contest for the roadheaders and celebrated with a pizza party. This is one of many ways we get involved with our neighbouring communities through our community investment program.


Students take part in mining traditions

More than just an educational visit, we wanted to involve the students in a very special way. In the tradition of sailors naming their ships, miners also name their underground equipment to protect them from bad luck. We invited the students to help us choose names for our two roadheaders, with the criteria being they needed to be strong, heroic and inspirational female names.

Collectively, the group chose the two winning names – Penelope and Betsey – and celebrated with a pizza lunch for everyone.


Giant roadheaders drill into the 750-metre-long diversion tunnels

The two diversion tunnels, which are approximately 750 metres long and wide enough for a city bus, will be used to temporarily reroute the Peace River around the dam site, allowing us to build the dam on dry land.

Excavating the tunnels requires special equipment, giant drills called roadheaders, to tunnel into the rock face. We sourced these Sandvik MT520 roadheaders from as far away as Austria and Australia. It took six weeks to transport the drills to Fort St. John!

The front of the roadheader breaks the rock with its cutting head and water-spraying system. An attached conveyor then moves the broken rocks to nearby trucks, which transport the rock for use at other areas on the construction site. Inside the tunnels, a specialized ventilation system removes dust, keeping the air safe for our crews.


Did you know? More than 20 crew members are needed to operate and maintain each roadheader.

Community investment is important

PRHP takes great pride in contributing to our neighbouring communities in the Peace River Regional District and focuses employee volunteer time and funding in doing so. Our focus is on healthy families, children and youth, and education. To learn more about PRHP’s community investment initiatives, visit


We would like to thank Charlie Lake Elementary School for facilitating this presentation!

Inlet Portal for the Diversion Tunnels on the North Bank