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

Major Milestone Achieved: RCC Powerhouse and Spillway Apron Completion

This October, PRHP completed the hydroelectric Powerhouse foundations (a total volume of 414,000 m3) and also finished the Spillway Apron (122,000 m3).

One of the joint venture partners, Acciona Infrastructure Canada Inc., wrote an article on this achievement.  To read more, click here.

Tunneling update – Road header commissioning and trial

Two Sandvik MT 520 road headers, each weighing around 115 tonnes, will be our prime construction equipment for the two diversion tunnels, which will play a crucial part in diverting the river to construct the dam.

To ensure a smooth kick off for tunnel operations, which will commence in mid-August, the road headers were commissioned in early June and field trials were carried out on June 21 and 22. The trial was aimed at replicating the environment inside the tunnel by setting up a tent close to the rock surface and carrying out the excavation of rock.

The front part of the road header, with the cutting head and water-spraying system, breaks the rock while the attached conveyor transports the broken rocks to a truck positioned nearby. A dust extraction (suction) fan – with the ducts extending up to the face of the rock – was installed to meet with the standards of dust level in the operating zone. This was the sequence of operation experimented in the trial.

The road header trial provided us with some valuable insights into the dust extraction system and the cutting effectiveness on the rock we will be dealing with for a length of around 1,500 metres (including both diversion tunnels). The road headers will start operating by mid August and will work through the tunnels for a period of ten months.