'Century Aluminum' Tag Archive

Apr 07 2009
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Aluminum Companies Consulted About New Draft of the Icelandic Constitution


The Aluminium Fools A parliamentary committee for redrafting of the Icelandic constitution consulted representatives from three foreign aluminium companies – Rio Tinto-Alcan, Alcoa and Century Aluminum – to give comments about the constitution. The chairman of the committee is the former minister of industry, Valgerður Sverrisdóttir – the ‘aluminium lady’.

A regulation about the national property of natural resources is in a draft of law that recently has been heavily debated in the parliament. The committee asked for comment from various directions, e.g. the aluminium and energy companies. All the three aluminium companies are owned by foreign investors and their holding companies are all registered abroad. Read More

Apr 07 2009

Iceland Attacked by Economic Hitmen


Anti-IMF Banner Drop in Reykjavík John Perkins, the author of The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, is currently in Iceland. Perkins is here to be at the premier screening of The Dreamland, a documentary based on Andri Snær Magnason’s book, also titled The Dreamland. Last Sunday, Perkins was interviewed in a political TV show on RÚV (the state television station) where he spoke about the threat of Icelandic resources being sold to foreign corporations and advised Icelandic authorities not to collaborate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Perkins used to work for the U.S. National Security Agency and his job included “to convince poor countries to accept enormous development loans – and to make sure that such projects were contracted to U.S. companies,” as says on the back cover of his book. Perkins states that Iceland is the first ‘developed’ country in the world to be hit by the ‘Economic Hitmen’, referring to the invasion of the aluminium industry in Iceland. Read More

Mar 03 2009

Draft of Law about Helguvík Approved


Iceland’s current government, formed by the Left-Green Party (Vinstri Grænir) and the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), has approved draft of a law by Össur Skarphéðinsson, minister of industry. The draft permits the government’s contract with Century Aluminum and Norðurál Helguvík about the construction of an aluminium smelter in Helguvík.

The contract includes several versions of a “special treatment” that Norðurál will get from the government and has e.g. to do with the amount of taxes that the company will pay. The contract puts Norðurál in a different and higher position that other companies in Iceland, apart from Alcoa’s aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður and Century’s smelter in Grundartangi. Read More

Feb 09 2009

Iceland’s Ecological Crisis: Large Scale Renewable Energy and Wilderness Destruction


Kerlingarfjöll From New Renaissance Magazine

By Miriam Rose

The economic issues currently causing mass demonstrations in Iceland have a less publicised ecological cousin, and one which the IMF has recently identified as part of the economic collapse. In 1995 the Ministry of Industry and Landsvirkjun, the national power company, began to advertise Iceland’s huge hydropower and geothermal energy potential. In a brochure titled “Lowest energy prices!!” they offered the cheapest, most hard working and healthiest labour force in the world, the cleanest air and purest water – as well as the cheapest energy and “a minimum of environmental red tape” to some of the world’s most well known polluting industries and corporations (such as Rio Tinto and Alcoa). This campaigning has led to the development of an ‘Energy Master Plan’ aimed at damming almost all of the major glacial rivers in Iceland, and exploiting all of the geothermal energy, for the power intensive aluminium industry. The loans taken by the Icelandic state to build large scale energy projects, and the minimal payback they have received from the industry, has been a considerable contributing factor to the economic crisis, while at the same time creating a European ecological crisis that is little heard of.

The Largest Wilderness in Europe
I first visited Iceland in 2006 and spent a week with activists from the environmental campaign Saving Iceland, a network of individuals from around Europe and Iceland who decry the fragmentation of Europe’s largest wilderness in favour of heavy industry. From these informed and passionate folk I learned of the 690 MW Kárahnjúkar dam complex being built in the untouched Eastern Central Highlands to power one Alcoa aluminium smelter in a small fishing village called Reydarfjörður. The dams formed the largest hydro-power complex in Europe, and were set to drown 57 km2 of beautiful and virtually unstudied wilderness, the most fertile area in the surrounding highlands. Ultimately it would affect 3% of Iceland’s landmass with soil erosion and river silt deprivation. They also explained how materials in the glacial silt transported to the oceans bonds with atmospheric CO2, sinking carbon. The damming of Iceland’s glacial rivers not only decreases food supply for fish stocks in the North Atlantic, but also negatively impacts oceanic carbon absorption, a significant climatic effect. After taking part in demonstrations at the construction site of the Alcoa smelter (being built by famous Iraq war profiteers Bechtel), I went to see the area for myself. Read More

Feb 03 2009

Þjórsárver Wetlands to be Protected but Construction of Helguvík Smelter Continues


From Þjórsárver Wetlands Iceland’s new minister of environment and a Left Green MP, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir has announced that one of here first jobs in the government will be to protect the Þjórsárver wetlands. At the same time she has said that Norðurál’s (Century Aluminum) plans for a new aluminium smelter in Helguvík, can most likely not be stopped by any future government. While in opposition, the Left Greens always spoke against the construction in Helguvík.

Þjórsárver are a unique ecosystem characterized by tundra meadows intersected with numerous glacial and spring-fed streams, a large number of pools, ponds, lakes and marshes, and rare permafrost mounds. Iceland’s national energy company, Landsvirkjun wanted to build a 30 meters high dam in the area, creating a 65 km2 big reservoir. The energy was supposed to run the enlargement of Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminium smelter in Hafnarfjörður, a plan that the majority of the town’s population voted against in a local referendum in 2007. Later Landsvirkjun proposed to lower the planned dam down to 24 meters. Halldórsdóttir’s decision about the protection of Þjórsárver is very important and a big victory for the Icelandic environmental movement.

Iceland’s new minority government, formed by Samfylkingin (the Social Democratic Alliance) and Vinstri Grænir (VG – The Left Greens), has released it’s policy statement for the upcoming 80 days until parliamentary elections will take place in the end of April. The statement states e.g. that “no new plans for aluminium smelters are on the government’s list.” Still Össur Skarphéðinsson, a Samfylkingin MP and the minister of industry since 2007, has said that both Norðurál’s planned 360 thousand ton smelter in Helguvík and Alcoa’s planned smelter in Bakki, Húsavík, do not fall under this statement. Read More

Jan 13 2009

Eight Power Plants Needed for Helguvík Smelter


The directors of Reykjavík Energy (OR) and Hitaveita Suðurnesja (HS) have both said that the companies are not able to supply all the necessary energy that Century Aluminium needs fo it’s planned aluminium smelter in Helguvík, in the next 7 years, even though 6 new power plants would be built. At least 200 MW would be needed, which is the amount of energy that could be produced by building power plants in Bitra (geothermal field) and in Urriðafoss waterfall (in Þjórsá river).

Össur Skarphéðinsson, minister of industry has on behalf of the Icelandic government, given Norðurál (Century Aluminium) the permission to build up to 360 thousand ton aluminium smelter in Helguvík, which would produce double the amount Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter in Hafnarfjörður produces. But where does all the necessary energy – 625 MW – come from?

Read More

Oct 29 2008

Björk: After Financial Meltdown, Now it’s Smeltdown


bjork The men who made Iceland go cap in hand to the IMF are now bent on ruining its landscape

Björk, The Times – After touring for 18 months I was excited to return home a few weeks ago to good, solid Iceland and enjoy a little bit of stability. I had done a concert there earlier this year to raise awareness about local environmental issues and 10 per cent of the nation came to it; but I still felt it wasn’t enough.
So when I returned I decided to contact people all over the island who had attempted to start new companies and bring in new greener ways of working but had not succeeded. For a long time Iceland’s main income was fishing, but when that become uneconomic people started looking for other ways to earn a living. The ruling conservatives thought that harnessing Iceland’s natural energy and selling it to huge companies such as Alcoa and Rio Tinto would solve the problem.
Now we have three aluminium smelters, which are the biggest in Europe; and in the space of the next three years they want to build two more. The smelters would need energy from a handful of new geothermal power plants and the building of dams that would damage pristine wilderness, hot springs and lava fields. To take this much energy from geothermal fields is not sustainable. Read More

Oct 26 2008
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More Power Plants May Cause More Economic Instability


Politicians responsible for Karahnjukar contributed to economic collapse Jaap Krater, Morgunblaðið, 26-10-2008

In times of economic crisis, it is tempting to embrace new megaprojects such as new power plants and aluminium smelters. But will this realistically improve Iceland’s economic prospects?

Prime minister Geir Haarde recently explained on Stöd 2′s chat show Mannamál that one of the main reasons for the fall of the Krona, was due to the execution of heavy industry projects: the construction of Kárahnjúkar and Alcoa’s smelter in Reyðarfjörður. If more large projects are executed, what will the cost be for the Icelandic taxpayer?

Haarde’s comments were not surprising. Before construction of Kárahnjúkar many economists predicted the negative impact on inflation, foreign debt and the exchange rate of the ISK.

Of course there is some economic benefit from new smelters, but “it is probably outweighed by the developments’ indirect impact on demand, inflation, interest rates and the ISK exchange rate,” stated a report by Glitnir in 2006 on the impact of aluminium expansion in Iceland. The report expected an increase in inflation and a depreciation of the ISK.

“Kárahnjúkar will never make a profit, and the Icelandic taxpayer may well end up subsidising Alcoa,” said the eminent economist Thorsteinn Siglaugsson after publishing another report on the profitability of the Alcoa dam in East Iceland before construction commenced. Read More

Oct 26 2008

From One Mess to Another


andri-snaer Andri Snær Magnason, Fréttablaðið – In these turbulent times interested parties use the opportunity to offer us “solutions” and relief. This time around it involves “alleviating all restrictions” and putting public energy companies up as 300 – 400 milliard collateral for two to three new aluminium plants. This is what is on the drawing board when the total debt of OR and LV (the central public energy institutions) are already at a dizzying 550 milliards – mostly because of Alcoa and Norðurál (Century Aluminum). This is why the banks always preached large-scale industry policies – more debt – more joy. It’s down to the price of aluminium to repay these loans, but aluminium prices are plummeting and a level of overproduction has already been reached. The nation believes that the magic term EXPORT EARNINGS is money that will end up in the nation’s pocket. News of export earnings and foreign currency receipts have time and again been directly false and treacherous. A bar chart published in the Morgunblaðið newspaper the 11th of October depicts the aluminium industry as more important than the fishing industry and considerably larger than the tourism industry. But the presentation is exactly as the INTERESTED PARTIES would like to have it portrayed in the media. When Alcoa Fjarðaál claims to export for 70 milliards a year, most Icelanders believe that this is currency that we can use. Read More

Oct 26 2008

Protestor Killed in Guinea Bauxite Mining Protest


CONAKRY, GUINEA – At least one person was killed when police in Guinea cleared protesters from a railway carrying bauxite for Russian aluminium company RUSAL, police and industry sources said on Friday the 10th of October. RUSAL, after it’s merger with Glencore, is the largest owner of Century Aluminum, which owns the Grundartangi smelter in Iceland and has been preparing to construct a new smelter at Helguvik, south of Reykjavik. The trains, which have been blocked for five days, had still not restarted, the sources added. Read More