Archive for 2009

Dec 30 2009

Vietnam’s Mega Bauxite Mine: A Social and Ecological Disaster


Al Jazeera has obtained the first footage of a massive bauxite mining project in central Vietnam which has created one of the biggest civil protest movements the country has ever seen. Vietnamese media have been banned from reporting on the proposed mine, which critics say will create major environmental damage, for little economic benefit.

Vietnam holds the third largest bauxite reserves worldwide and is increasingly subject to China’s growing desire for natural resources through its controlling diplomatic relationship with Vietnam. The $460 million project, which has already begun, is being carried out by Chinalco, a chinese aluminium company who own 10% shares in Rio Tinto, and Vinacomin, the Vietnamese partner.

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Dec 29 2009

Greenland’s Energy and Mineral Extraction Master-plan Revealed


As Greenland awakes from over 700 years of colonisation and heavy subsidisation by Denmark, it’s home rule government are promoting the development of huge hydro-power for aluminium smelters, and all the country’s other mineral and energy resources as a desperate measure to sustain their economy. The language of fear and imminent economic collapse used in the Prime Minister’s plan (below) is strongly reminiscent of the pro heavy-industry strategy in Iceland in the run up to the Kárahnjúkar dam, and right up to today.

The article attempts to justify aluminium production and other energy intensive extractive industries, claiming that using Greenland’s ‘green’ hydro energy will prevent ‘dirty’ emissions for the inevitable production of aluminium elsewhere. This is certainly the take of Alcoa who are ever keen to avoid carbon taxes, and claim that:
‘We have before us a wonderful opportunity to deliver mutual benefit to the people of Greenland and to Alcoa as we continue to work toward our common objective of building a world-class, sustainable aluminum smelter, powered by renewable hydroelectric energy in Greenland.’
The experience of Icelandic mega-hydro, as well as numerous studies have revealed this argument to be nothing but ‘greenwash’- a selling point for Alcoa, while carbon emissions, fluoride pollution, indigenous destruction, and weapons manufacture associated with aluminium production continue to rise unabated.
Plans for an aluminium smelter in Greenland have been reported since 2007, originally proposed by Norsk Hydro. Alcoa quickly stepped in and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in May 2007 for a smelter in the town of Nuuk, Sisimiut or Maniitsoq. The proposed smelter will begin at 350,000 tonnes (slightly larger than the enormous Fjardaal in Iceland) and will require 650 MW of energy from 2 dams, connected to the smelter by 240 km of powerlines. Public consultations are currently in progress with the next round in January 2010, with plans to have the smelter online by 2016.
In 2008 a contact in Greenland reported that most people there are in favour of the project, and with the urgent need for financial independence as they break away from Danish rule, this may well be the case. Greenland is geographically and politically isolated and lacks even the level of critique and information which Icelanders had in the run up to Karahnjukar, let alone the support of large NGO’s for the tiny environmental group who are trying to single-handedly address the many issues with the smelters and other developments there. Read More

Dec 20 2009

Iceland’s Embassy in Copenhagen Attacked: “Green Energy – Pure Lies”


The press release and photos here below appeared on the Danish Indymedia site last Wednesday, December 16th:

Early in the morning of Wednesday the 16th of december the Icelandic embassy in Copenhagen was attacked. A security camera was disabled with spray paint, the Icelandic coat of arms was defaced in the same way, green paint was splashed on the front of the house and on the front door, in large letters, “Green energy – pure lies” and “Nature Killers” was sprayed amongst other thing’s.

The Icelandic government boasts of it’s prowess in the production of “green” energy but there is no such thing as green energy, especially if it is then used for heavy industry. “Green” energy production is just as destructive to our environment as other energy production, the effects are just better hidden. The earth’s ecosystems are suffering because of mankinds actions, this must end.

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Nov 27 2009

Orkuveita Reykjavíkur Losing on Sale to Magma


Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík Energy Company) has lowered the value of a deed issued when Magma Energy bought the companies stocks in H.S. Orka (geothermal energy company). In a statement from OR it states that a lovering of the deed values was made to be in unison with international acounting standards.

Sigrún Elsa Smáradóttir, representative of the Social Democratic Union party in the board of OR announced that the estimated loss because of the stock trade is going to be 4 billion ISKR. There’s reason to believe that the value of the deeds Magma issued is overestimated as well, which will see even further loss come from the sale.

There was huge opposition against the sale from the start and the at the City Council meeting where the voting for the sale took place about 100 people demonstrated and shouted in protest from the balconies. Read more about this here and here.

The majority of the City Council spoke strongly for the sale and the profits that it would reap them, claiming the value to become 6.31 a stock. But the miniorities overlooked critique of the ridiculous loaning agreement has already proven to be true. The 3rd quarter accounts prove this and show that the stock value has fallen to 5.4.

Nov 27 2009

Is Heavy Industry the Way Out of the Economic Crisis?


By Indriði H. Þorláksson – Economist

The economic effects of heavy industry must take into account both short and long term economic policies.

Statements put forth without reasoning sometimes obtain more significance than they merit. Two such statements that are held aloft about the building of energy plants and heavy industry are particularly dangerous.

On the one hand that they are necessary and that they might even be the way out of the crisis and on the other that the future of the Icelandic economic system is best insured by utilizing energy resources and with heavy industry. One looks to the short term and the other to the long term but both are questionable, probably wrong and even dangerous.

The economic impact of heavy industry must take into account both short and long term economic policies, In the short term, say 3-5 years the goal is to restart the economy. In the long term the goal is to promote growth in the economic system to provide citizens with the good things in life. To do so the economy has to provide the highest augmented value to the nation for its work, capital and resources.

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Nov 24 2009

Government and Interested Parties Wage a War Against Iceland’s Wilderness


Reykjanes Peninsula Geological MapLast Saturday, November 21st, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland’s prime minister and the head of Samfylkingin (social democratic populist party), said that she is completely sure that all hindrances that could possibly stand in the way of the construction of Suðvesturlína (electricity lines) will be removed as soon as possible. Suðvesturlína is supposed to transport energy from the Hellisheiði geothermal powerplant (south of Reykjavík) and other energy sources to the Reykjanes peninsula, e.g. to run Century Aluminum’s new 360 ton smelter, which is currently being built in Helguvík.

At the same opportunity, Sigurðardóttir announced her hopes for that Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s national energy company) could start construction of Búðarhálsvirkjun hydro-dam in Tungná river, early next spring. The energy from there is supposed to run increased aluminium production in Rio Tinto-Alcan’s smelter in Hafnarfjörður. Sigurðardóttir said that employment affairs must be the biggest issue for social democtrats in the upcoming regional elections that will take place in the spring of 2010. She raised her voice for the necessity of increased development with the help of “eco-friendly” energy sources.

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Nov 17 2009
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Development of Iceland’s Geothermal Energy Potential for Aluminium Production – A Critical Analysis


By Jaap Krater and Miriam Rose
In: Abrahamsky, K. (ed.) (2010) Sparking a World-wide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the Transition to a Post-Petrol World. AK Press, Edinburgh. p. 319-333

Iceland is developing its hydro and geothermal resources in the context of an energy master plan, mainly to provide power for expansion of the aluminium industry. This paper tests perceptions of geothermal energy as low-carbon, renewable and environmentally benign, using Icelandic geothermal industry as a case study.
The application of geothermal energy for aluminium smelting is discussed as well as environmental and human rights record of the aluminium industry in general. Despite application of renewable energy technologies, emission of greenhouse gases by aluminium production is set to increase.
Our analysis further shows that carbon emissions of geothermal installations can approximate those of gas-powered plants. In intensely exploited reservoirs, life of boreholes is limited and reservoirs need extensive recovery time after exploitation, making geothermal exploitation at these sites not renewable in the short to medium term. Pollution and landscape impacts are extensive when geothermal technology is applied on a large scale.

Krater and Rose – Development of Iceland’s Geothermal Energy – Download as PDF
The full publication will be available from Jan. 15, 2010. ISBN 9781849350051.

Nov 14 2009
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Welcome!


Welcome to SavingIceland.org! Read the S.O.S. and About SI section if you are new to our site. Iceland Under Threat shows the wilderness we need to protect and the corporations bent on ruining it. Make sure to enjoy our video and photo galleries, our in-depth magazine Voices of the Wilderness and subscribe to our mailinglist and follow our Twitter feed to keep up to date.

Oct 13 2009

Guilty: UK Government Blasts Vedanta in Unprecedented Attack – Resistance Continues to Grow


From Survival International – On the 12th of October the UK government blasted FTSE-100 company Vedanta Resources over its treatment of the Dongria Kondh tribe in Orissa, India.

The damning verdict came after a nine month investigation into a complaint submitted by Survival International against Vedanta’s proposed bauxite mine on the Dongria Kondh’s sacred mountain. The complaint, upheld by the government, was brought under the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises – the key principles for ethical corporate behaviour.

In an unprecedented attack on a major British company, the government ruled that Vedanta, ‘did not respect the rights of the Dongria Kondh’; ‘did not consider the impact of the construction of the mine on the [tribe’s] rights’; and ‘failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism’. Devastatingly, it concluded, ‘A change in the company’s behaviour’ is ‘essential’.

Astonishingly, despite repeated requests from the UK government, the company ‘failed to provide any evidence during the examination’. This is the only time a company has refused to participate in an OECD investigation.
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Oct 13 2009

Alcoa Continues to Evaluate Bakki


Aluminium giant Alcoa continues to look into the financial prospects of building an aluminium smelter at Bakki outside of Húsavík though the Icelandic government has refused to extend their Statement of Will on the subject.

Tómas Már Sigurðsson, president of Alcoa in Iceland, says the project continues in cooperation with the energy companies and the local council of Norðurþing. They are now working on getting the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) done, which was ordered by the ministry of environment last summer. A suggestion for the assessment was given to the Office of the Icelandic National Planning Agency at the end of September this year. Tómas Már is hoping for the results of the assessment in the spring of 2010.

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