Sep 27 2002
Scott Clouder profiles the company that links BacoFoil with the US treasury secretary, a Mexican sweatshop and an Icelandic wilderness.
At the end of July Alcoa, the world’s largest producer of aluminium, signed an agreement with Iceland’s national Landsvirkjun power company and the Icelandic government to build a large smelting plant in the country’s eastern wilderness. Alcoa is offering to finance the construction of an adjoining hydropower plant in an undisturbed area north of Vatnajokull Glacier, including access roads and a large dam. This will enable it to buy electricity cheaply – which is useful considering around 60 percent of the cost of producing aluminium is the cost of energy. The project is set to be one of the largest investments ever in Iceland, and will change the course of two of the country’s largest glacial rivers and turn various valleys and canyons into reservoirs. All this is proposed for an area which, at three thousand square kilometres, is the second-largest wilderness in Europe. Nature conservation organisations all over the world have campaigned to have the place designated as a national park but the construction will disturb about half of its 22 protected sites of special natural interest and an important reindeer calving area.(1)
Iceland’s State Planning Agency originally vetoed the plan because of the environmental impact, but the decision was overruled by the environment minister, Sif Fridleifsdottir. Read More