Archive for September, 2009

Sep 28 2009

‘The Global Aluminium Industry: Insights for Trinidad and Tobago’


Reception and presentation by Samarendra Das in Centenary Hall, St. Mary’s College, Thursday Oct. 1st, from 18:30 to 21:00.

Mr. Samarendra Das is an Indian national, global activist and research scholar based in London and Orissa. He has been involved for the last sixteen years in grassroots activism with the ‘Dongria Kondh’ and ‘Mahji Kondh’, tribal communities who have lived sustainable and self-sufficient lives for centuries in the mountains of Orissa. Kondh values and their mountains are in risk from multinational companies seeking to capture iron ore and bauxite  for the metal industries. Mr. Das has developed extensive knowledge of transnational corporations, NGO’s and the institutional architecture of the global elite who wield power over the earth’s resources. His academic backgrounds include a ‘first’ first class honors in  mathematics and a master of computer science with distinction. Mr. Das has co-produced films with his brother Amarendra, published books and written over 200 papers in his  mother tongue, Oriya. His work is both technical and artistic, covering culture, identity, conflict and political economy. His recent film with Amarendra, Sept. 2005, Wira Pdika (Earth Worm: Company Man) is feature-length campaign documentary on the resistance of the Orissa Kondhs.

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Sep 20 2009

Plundering the Amazon


Alcoa and Cargill have bypassed laws designed to prevent destruction of the world’s largest rain forest, Brazilian prosecutors say. The damage wrought by scores of companies is robbing the earth of its best shield against global warming.

By Michael Smith and Adriana Brasileiro
Bloomberg Markets, September 2009

For four decades, Edimar Bentes and his family have survived by farming tiny clearings in the jungle near their dirt-floor shack in the state of Para in the Brazilian Amazon. On this April afternoon, Bentes, 56, squats in the driving rain and dips a glass into what just four years ago was a crystal-clear stream that provided drinking and bathing water. He frowns as the glass fills with brown silt. A thin man with short-cropped dark hair and a tanned, deeply wrinkled forehead, Bentes gazes around his land. There are no signs of the deer, armadillos and pacas he used to hunt to feed his wife and 10 children. For Bentes and thousands of others in the Juruti region of Para whose livelihood depends on wildlife and plants, everything changed in 2006.

That’s when New York-based Alcoa Inc., the world’s second-largest primary aluminum producer, started to bulldoze a 56-kilometer (35-mile) swath of the rain forest across hundreds of families’ properties to build a railway. This cleared corridor, 100 meters (109 yards) wide, will lead to a mine that will chew up 10,500 hectares (25,900 acres) of virgin jungle over three decades. More than half of the mine will lie inside a forest that by Brazilian federal law is supposed to be preserved unharmed forever for local residents. By year’s end, Alcoa says, the railway will transport 7,000 tons a day of bauxite, the dark red ore that’s used to make aluminum, from the mine to a port on the Amazon River. Read More

Sep 16 2009

Environmentalism is Not Prosperity Politics!


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson, originally published in Morgunblaðið – After last autumn’s economical collapse, the discussion about environmental issues changed rapidly. Politicians who before spoke with full force against further energy- and heavy industry projects have now completely turned around, with the premises that environmentalism is prosperity politics. The head of the Left Green party recently called the party’s environmental policy puritanical and said that it does not apply in times of economical depression. The last fortress must then be fallen – at least amongst those who believe in reforms inside the representative democracy.

Now the plan is to push through an aluminium smelter in Helguvík with all its appropriate energy construction. Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the minister of environment, recently said that there is not enough energy on the Reykjanes penisula to fulfill the smelter’s energy needs. Others have pointed out that harnessing the geothermal areas there will be such a massive attack that the areas will most likely dry up in a short time. Katrín Júlíusdóttir, the minister of industry, has stated her positive opinion about Landsvirkjun producing energy for Helguvík – and the Þjórsá river comes immadeatly up to one’s mind. She also seems to be willing to renew the memorandum of understanding between the government and Alcoa, which according to the latter’s plans means that the whole geothermal areas in north-east Iceland have to be harnessed and dams built in one or more glacial rivers. Read More

Sep 16 2009

Magma’s Purchase of H.S. Orka Approved – Three Arrested in the City Hall


Read the beginning of this story by clicking here –  Yesterday, the Reykjavík City Council approved Reykjavík Energy’s (O.R.) contract about the company’s selling of their share in H.S. Orka. The share has been purchased by a Canadian geothermal company, Magma Energy, owned by Ross Beaty, a former owner of copper and silver mines companies in Latin America. O.R.’s share was 32% but Magma Energy had already bought 11% in H.S. Orka from Geysir Green Energy (GGE) and therefor owns 43% in the company. Recently, GGE bought the majority share in H.S. Orka from Reykjanesbær council, which means that the access to geothermal energy in the Reykjanes peninsula is now mainly in the hands of private companies. Magma and GGE have already announced ideas of the companies’ unification.

Well over 100 people attended the city council’s meeting yesterday to follow the discussion from the balcony of the council’s main meeting hall. Öskra! – the movement of revolutionary students, had amongst other, called on people to show up and protest against the decision making.  People were very angry and expressed their anger in many different ways; mostly by shouting and interrupting the councilors’ speeches, telling them to get out and calling them traitors. The meeting had to be stopped several times because of the disturbance, which lead to the building’s security guards calling for police assistance. Three men were arrested after one of them threw a role of toilet paper down from the balcony on to the floor were the councilors were sitting. When the police attempted to arrest him, two others tried to de-arrest him, which lead to the arrest of all of them. The arrest was quite brutal, enough to shock many of those who attended the meeting.  Read More

Sep 16 2009

Chinese Aluminium Producer to Buy Icelandic Energy – Búðarháls Dam the Government’s Priority


Chinalco, China’s biggest aluminium producer, has shown interest in buying a 32% share in Þeistareykir ehf., a geothermal energy company from the north of Iceland, owned equally by three companies; Landsvirkun (Iceland’s national energy company), Norðurorka and Orkuveita Húsavíkur (O.H. – Húsavík Energy). Norðuorka has shown interest in selling its share and according to information from the Chinesee Embassy in Iceland a committee from Chinalco will go north to Húsavík soon to discuss with those who the purchase concerns. Alcoa and H.S. Orka, which has been bought by the Canadian H.S. Orka, have also shown interest in buying a share in Þeistareykir ehf.

Chinalco owns 10% shares in Rio Tinto-Alcan, which owns an aluminium smelter in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Chinalco has been focusing on buying up companies in different metal industries and e.g. recently bought copper mines in Latin America from Ross Beaty, the director of Magma Energy, a Canadian geothermal energy company that is in the process of buying big shares in an Icelandic energy company, H.S. Orka and has mentioned the possibility of buying shares in Geysir Green Energy, the major owner of H.S. Orka.

The coming 1st of October, the memorandum of understanding between Alcoa, the government and Norðurþing county, expires. Norðurþing has announced their interest in renewing their contract with Alcoa, which is still looking for ways to use the geothermal energy from Þeistareykir.  Read More