Archive for 2008

Dec 23 2008
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Iceland ‘Like Chernobyl’ as Meltdown Shows Anger Can Boil Over


By Ben Holland, Bloomberg

It was the week before Christmas in Reykjavik, and all through the town Eva Hauksdottir led a band of 60 whistle-blowing, pan-banging, shouting demonstrators. “Pay your own debts,” they yelled as they visited one bank office after another in Iceland’s capital. “Don’t make the children pay.”
When she isn’t leading one of the almost daily acts of protest in this land devastated by the global financial meltdown, Hauksdottir sells good luck charms made from the claws of ptarmigans, a local bird, and voodoo dolls in the form of bankers. She says she expects to lose her home, worth less than when she bought it two years ago, after the amount she owes jumped more than 20 percent. Read More

Dec 18 2008

Búðarháls Dam Further Delayed


The construction of Búðarháls Dam (Búðarhálsvirkjun) in Tungnaá river, will probably be further delayed due to the uncertain future of Landsvirkjun´s financial possibilities. Landsvirkjun is Iceland’s national energy company. The construction was originally supposed to start early next year, after being delayed since 2003. The estimated cost is 25 billion Icelandic krónur.

Because of the collapse of the Icelandic banks and the international financial crisis, most possibilities for foreign loans are now frozen. Landsvirkjun’s long time financement is therefore quite uncertain.

“This mostly impacts new constructions, like Búðarhálsvirkjun” says Þorsteinn Hilmarsson, Landsvirkjun’s PR manager. “It is necessary to insure the future financement before the construction starts.  ”

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Dec 18 2008

Iceland can not trust on aluminium to solve the economic crisis


Bloomberg – Iceland’s planned economic recovery, based on raising exports of aluminum, may take longer to achieve than the government expects as the global slowdown forces down commodity prices, Fitch Ratings said.

The island is relying on aluminum sales, which have overtaken marine exports as its biggest export, to pull it out of the worst recession in more than half a century. The metal made up about 40 percent of total exports in the first 10 months, compared with 27 percent a year earlier, according to the statistics agency. Still, increased reliance on aluminum comes at a bad time as prices have slumped more than 30 percent since the start of the year.

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Dec 15 2008

No Enlargement in Straumsvík – Bakki Smelter Delayed


Rio Tinto Alcan has taken back it’s plan to enlarge it’s aluminium smelter in Straumsvík, Hafnarfjörður, according to the Icelandic newspaper Fréttablaðið. Alcoa’s planned smelter construction in Bakki (north-Iceland) will also be delayed for the next years. Landsvirkjun (national energy company) and Þeistareykir hf. have agreed to discuss with other interested buyers of geothermal energy in the north of Iceland.

Last Wednesday, Jacynthe Côté, Rio Tinto Alcan’s director, told Össur Skarphéðinsson, the minister of industry, that the company’s planned 40 thousand ton enlargement in Straumsvík would not take place. The enlargement was planned to take place in 2009, inside the company’s already declaired zone. The smelter’s production capacity would have raised from 185 thousand tons to 225 thousand tons.

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Dec 13 2008

Direct action in Iceland


Aftaka.org – Since early this winter, Iceland has been facing economic crisis. The three major business banks have been nationalized, putting their dept on the people’s shoulders. People have been losing their livelong savings, loans have increased and are getting sky high (and for sure they already were high enough). 200 people lost their job, every single day of November and more and more people are facing the threat of losing their houses. Read more on Aftaka.org.

Nov 22 2008

Pepperspray used at anti-police protest


The now regular Saturday protests in front of the Icelandic parliament in Reykjavik went ahead today as planned, but a follow-up demonstration outside the police headquarters ended in the police using pepperspray. During the busy parliament protests, the famous statue of Jonas Sigurdsson was dressed in women’s clothing to remind people of the role of the female half of the population and how they should take a leading role in rebuilding the Icelandic economy.
After the rally, some 200 to 300 people took part in a different protest at the main police station to demand the release of Haukur Himarsson, who had been arrested last night when police found out he was the person to fly the Bonus supermarket flag from the top of parliament two weeks ago.
After officers in full riot gear used pepper spray to try to disperse the crowds, police eventually released Hilmarsson and the crowd dissipated. It is still not known whether or not the police charged Hilmarsson before his release, however.
Hilmarsson was arrested last night after an educational research trip to the Althingi parliament house. He has a suspended 14 days remaining of an 18-day prison sentence he received in 2005 for protests against the Karahnjukar dam.

Nov 11 2008

Alcoa’s shares down as production is decreased


Today Alcoa’s shares lowered 7,6%  after the company announced that it would decrease production by 350 thousand tons per year. The cut-down takes place in Alcoa’s smelters in Ferndale, Washington; and Baie Comeau, Quebec. Alcoa runs the Fjarðaál aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður, east Iceland. Earlier the company had announced 256 thousand ton cutback in Rockdale, Texas which means that Alcoa’s production downturn is 15%.
Alcoa also announced that a 2,2 million ton enlargement of an aluminium smelter in Wagerup, Australia would be delayed.  The project’s estimated cost was between 3 and 4 million dollars and Alcoa said it will restart when the state of market change. According to experts, there is still redundance of aluminium on the market.

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Nov 11 2008

Búðarháls Dam and RT-Alcan Production Increase Delayed


Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national energy company, has announced that the tender offer of the dam Búðarhálsvirkjun will be delayed because of the current economical situation. This means that the planned expansion of Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminium smelter in Straumsvík will also be delayed. Construction of Búðarhálsvirkjun, which was stopped a number of years ago, will dam the Tungnaá River, close to the lake Langisjór.

The construction of Búðarhálsvirkjun is expected to be around 25 billion ISK and the 85 MW dam is supposed to power R.T. Alcan’s increased production in Straumsvík, Hafnarfjörður. R.T. Alcan hopes to increase its production by 40 thousand tons per year without enlarging the smelter. But the company also hopes to enlarge the smelter further, though the people of Hafnarfjörður voted against it in a 2007 referendum, or to construct a new smelter i Thorlakshofn. The dam is also meant to create power for Verne Holdin’s data center to be built in Reykjanesbær. Read More

Nov 03 2008
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Iceland Sinks


Haukur Már Helgason, Il Manifesto (Italian daily) – Last April, the government published a report about “Iceland’s image”, written by a committee of leading business people in Iceland. The report summarizes Iceland’s history thus: “For a long time, the nation lived through hardships, but once it achieved freedom and independence it took a leap from being a developing country to becoming one of the richest nations in the world, in less than a century.”

This October, the only growing business sector in Iceland is body guards. It’s booming. For the first time in Iceland’s history, the heads of state, politicians and stock exchange „entrepreneurs“ are surrounded by professional muscle-men. After six to ten years of private ownership, and constant staggering growth, all three major banks in Iceland collapsed in a week, unable to pay their debts. Economically they had become 10 times bigger than Iceland itself. The state, led by the Central bank re-nationalized all three of them, one by one. Read More

Nov 02 2008

Alcoa Smelter in Bakki Delayed as Test Drilling is Postponed


Preperation for a new aluminium smelter in Bakki by Húsavík, has been delayed and the test drilling for geothermal power plants around lake Mývatn have been laid off. A memorandum of understanding between Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s national energy company) and Alcoa was not renewed now in the beginning of November as Alcoa is not ready to put more finance in to more drilling.
The Bakki smelter was supposed to be powered by geothermal plants in Þingeyjasýsla, near lake Mývatn. Four billion Krona’s worth of test drillings were scheduled for next year, both in Krafla and Þeistareykir. Alcoa was supposed to pay half of the cost. The decision on the future of the drilling will now be delayed for at least one year, according to a joint announcement by Landsvirkjun, Alcoa and Þeistareykir efh.

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