Archive for September, 2008

Sep 30 2008

Testing Metal


SmelterEconomist.com – When thinking globally requires unpleasant action locally.
LAST Thursday, at a conference on aluminium smelting in Germany, environmental activists tripped the fire alarms. Later, they set off a deafening rape alarm in the main auditorium, and suspended it out of reach of the indignant organisers using helium balloons. They also chucked in a few stink bombs, and scattered leaflets among the bewildered crowd.
Protesters from the same group have chained themselves to machinery, suspended banners from building façades and blockaded construction sites, to name just a few of the activities that have got them arrested, all in the name of “Saving Iceland”, as their organisation is called. Their grievance is simple: they do not think that power companies should be building dams and drilling wells for geothermal plants in pristine parts of Iceland, simply to provide power for aluminium smelters. Read More

Sep 29 2008

Hypocrisy?


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson, orignally published in Morgunblaðið

“Do you know that your wheelchair is made out of aluminium?” said a police officer to one of those who stopped work in Helguvík this summer. Thereby he swamped all the arguments of the opposition to aluminium for good, didn’t he? Shortly after the publication of Jakob Björnsson’s (former director of energy affairs) article about the singer Björk Guðmundsdóttir and her usage of aluminium, the editors of Morgunblaðið got ready and wrote an editorial where it says that the opposers of aluminium are probably not self-consistent most of the time. Most of them use aluminium everyday and even Saving Iceland cooks in aluminium pots and uses aluminium polse to hold up their tents. “Hypocrisy” said Morgunblaðið.

This critique is far from being new. It has systematically been used against those who object to the further build-up of heavy industry here in Iceland, the destruction of Iceland’s nature for energy production, the destruction of ecosystems worldwide because of bauxite mining, and energy realization to a company that prides itself of its collaboration with the U.S. millitary. In addition to when aluminium opposers are all said to be wanting to move the Icelandic society back to the turf huts and build the country’s economy on picking mountain grass, this has been the main criticism.

No matter how many times it has been pointed out that at least 30% of all produced aluminium is used for the arms industry; no matter how many times it has been pointed out how much aluminium ends as a land-filling after having functions as single use drinking facilities; no matter that the context between low energy prices and the fact how easy it is for us to produce aluminium, use it once, throw it away and produce more – still we are being told that we are not self-consistent.

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Sep 25 2008

Saving Iceland Disrupts International Aluminium Conference in Germany


Today, the 11th International Conference on Aluminium Aloys (ICAA) met with angry protests. Activists from the environmentalist network Saving Iceland disrupted the proceedings at the University in Aachen. Early this morning, during one of Rio Tinto Alcan’s lectures, the fire alarms in the building were put on. Later today – again during Rio Tinto Alcan’s lecture – stink bombs were thrown and a high volume rape alarm was put on and suspended out of reach by green and black helium baloons. The auditorium was also strewn with information leaflets. The aim was to call attention to the industry’s singular involvement in ecological destruction in Iceland, as well as on a global scale.

The ICAA conference is a weeklong event held at a different international location every 2 years. This is its first appearance in Germany and as such is run in parallel to the Aluminium trade fair in Essen, about 80 km away. This double event is sure to call together all major players of an industry that still tries to present itself as having a green conscience, and with some success: Alcoa has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, for the 7th year running. [1] Environmentalists dispute this depiction in the strongest terms.

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Sep 23 2008

Copenhagen: Call to Climate Action


A call for action from Denmark.

We stand at a crossroads. The facts are clear. Global climate change, caused by human activities, is happening, threatening the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and the existence of millions of
species. Social movements, environmental groups, and scientists from all over the world are calling for urgent and radical action on climate change.
On the 30th of November, 2009 the governments of the world will come to Copenhagen for the fifteenth UN Climate Conference (COP-15). This will be the biggest summit on climate change ever to have taken place. Yet, previous meetings have produced nothing more than business as usual.
There are alternatives to the current course that is emphasizing false solutions such as market-based approaches and agrofuels. If we put humanity before profit and solidarity above competition we can live amazing lives without destroying our planet.

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Sep 18 2008
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Solidarity Actions in Copenhagen – No More Dams; No More Smelters!


Today we received a letter from Denmark:

This morning, big banners were hanged on a building in Copenhagen saying: ,,Aluminium Industry is destroying all major Icelandic rivers!” A big advertisment from Icelandair Airline Company, showing Icelandic rivers, was hanging on this same wall last week.

The construction of the planned new Century aluminium smelter in Helguvík and Alcoa’s smelter in Húsavík, will lead to damming of more glacial rivers and geothermal areas. Today it looks like dams will be built in Þjórsá River, Tungnaá, Skjálfandafljót and Jökulsá á Fjöllum; only for further heavy industry projects.

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Sep 17 2008

Norway Sells Shares of ‘Unethical’ Rio Tinto


Grasberg Mine in West PapuaSurvival International – The Norwegian government has sold its shares in British company Rio Tinto, whose Grasberg mine in West Papua, Indonesia, has devastated the land of the Amungme and Kamoro tribes. Norway sold its almost £500 million shares in Rio Tinto following recommendations from its Council on Ethics to exclude the company from its government pension fund. The Council made its recommendation due to ‘a risk of contributing to severe environmental damage’ through Rio Tinto’s participation in the Grasberg copper and gold mine. Read More

Sep 17 2008
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Alcoa Destroys Ancient Australian Forest for Mining


Alcoa is clearing Western Australia’s old growth Jarrah forests at an incredible rate. Vast areas of State Forest within an hour’s drive south east of Perth, Western Australia, are being devastated by bauxite mining. Jarrah forests are unique and under threat from many areas. They need to be preserved, not cleared. Alcoa’s present mineral lease covers 4,898 sq km of State forest. The current lease extends from Wundowie to the Preston River, south of Collie, plus a pocket at Julimar near Bindoon. Alcoa’s lease allows them access to the bauxite from 1961 to 2044. The Darling Range bauxite is the lowest grade ore mined on a commercial scale anywhere in the world. At present the royalty Alcoa is required to pay is just 1.65% on the value of alumina sales. Alcoa’s refineries at Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup produce some 16 percent of world demand for alumina. Read More

Sep 17 2008

Greenwash Emissions on the Nose


Olga Galacho, The Herald Sun, Victoria, Australia– Aluminium titan Alcoa may pump more carbon into the state’s lungs than most companies. But it would have Victorians believe they can start breathing easy again after yesterday’s announcement that it has been recognised as a sustainability leader in its home country, the United States. The opening of its first new smelter in 20 years, in Iceland and powered by hydro-electricity, has cemented Alcoa’s position in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, it seems.

The index tracks the financial prowess of “leading sustainability-driven” companies, and this year is the seventh in a row that the highly energy-intensive Alcoa has been included.

The news might be a relief to those who were considering investing in portable oxygen tanks after the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) last week named and shamed Alcoa as one of 11 power generation owners doing “zero to reduce their emissions”. Read More

Sep 17 2008

Alcoa in Texas Lawsuit, Workers Laid Off


Alcoa's Rockdale smelterAlcoa has laid off 300 workers in it’s Rockdale smelting facilities in Texas after idling some of the facility. Another 100 contract workers will be affected. The aluminium giant says this is necessary due to unreliable power supply from the energy supplier that is contracted for the smelter, Luminant. That company claims Alcoa is using them as an excuse to fire workers to drive up profitability. Read More

Sep 17 2008

Wake Up, Freak Out, then Get a Grip



Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray.