Apr 23 2006

The Nature Killers – A Brief Run Down of the Corporations Involved in the Kárahnjúkar Dam

April 4th, 2005

Barclays Bank
Already fund the notorious Narmada dam project in India – and have played a ‘key role’ in financing the dam by arranging a $400 million loan to Landsvirkjun, the Icelandic power company that will run the dam.



Dodgy Italian construction conglomerate, in charge of building most of the dam . One of Impregilo’s consultants has already been found guilty in 2003 of offering bribes to a Lesotho hydro-electric firm, and the company itself will face another hearing before the Lesotho courts in April 2005. Impregilo were also involved in building the Argentina’s Yacyreta dam, which went almost $10 million over budget and was labeled byPresident Carlos Menem ‘a monument to corruption’ . Impregilo were also one of the firms planning to build the infamous Ilisu dam.

Invest In Iceland
Part of the Icelandic Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Promotes investment in Iceland, and seem to be one of the quasi-governmental agencies that has been pushing for the hydro dam.

National Power Company of Iceland (Landsvirkjun)
This is the company that will run the Karahnjukar dam. Initially set up to explore hyro-electric power opportunities, Landsvirkjun now supplies electricity to the whole of Iceland. Owned jointly by theIcelandic State (50%) and the two biggest towns Reykjav í k (45%) and Akureyri (5%). Landsvirkjun also take part in greenwash operations with Alcoa, such as ‘The Alcoa/Landsvirkjun Sustainability Group’, which co-oprdinates projects such as spreading hay to stop soil erosion – which won’t, however, stop the massive erosion caused by the dryung out of dammed river beds. More on greenwash in the Alcoa section. You can track the progress on the dam, day by day, on this part of their website: http://www.karahnjukar.is/en/

The US company that will run the aluminium smelter. Alcoa is the world’s largest producer of aluminium, serves the most industries as well as producing ‘bacofoil’. It is very influential in US as well as Icelandic poltics: Ethical Consumer described Alcoa’s operations as ‘a near textbook example of how to win friends in high places’, counting the US Treasury Secretary, Paul O ’ Neill, as one of its former CEOs. While a major polluter, Alcoa undertakes greenwashing exercises such as the ‘Alcoa forest’ project, which claims to plant ‘ten million trees’. However, in Western Australia Alcoa have simply planted trees on top of the blasted and mined remains of former forest land; the new growth cannot compensate for the loss old eco-system, resulting in substantial erosion of topsoil.

Mott McDonald
The civil engineering company that designed the Newbury Bypass and the destruction of Twyford Down. Mott McDonald have also designed power stations for Indonesian dictator Suharto and airstrips in Iraq under Saddam, and was also involved in the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.


The company that will build the Alcoa aluminium smelter , ‘along with its partner, Icelandic engineering consortium HRV (Honnun, Rafhonnun, VST), with support from K-Home Engineering’. Bechtel is already known as a war profiteer, having been given a $680 million grant to ‘reconstruct’ Iraqi infrastricture, and was also involved in (unsuccessfully) privatising the water supply in Bolivia and building nuclear power stations. A fuller list can be found at http://archive.corporatewatch.org/news/boomtime_for_bechtel.htm

Corporate Watch news, December 8th 2004, ‘BOYCOTT BARCLAYS – HERE’S WHY’, http://archive.corporatewatch.org/news/barclays_boycott.htm

‘EXPOSING THE EQUATOR PRINCIPLES’, briefing by International Rivers Network and Friends of the Earth January 2004, http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/barclays_karahnjukar.pdf

The Guardian, November 29, 2003,’Power driven ‘, Susan De Muth, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press224.htm

IndependentOnline (South Africa) November 14/2004, ‘Italian firms in Lesotho dam corruption case’, Estelle Ellis, http://www.odiousdebts.org/odiousdebts/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=11876

The Corner House, ‘The Lesotho Highland Water Development Project – What Went Wrong?’, Nicholas Hildyard, 10 th July, 2002, http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/item.shtml?x=52182

Ilisu Dam Campaign, ‘Company Profile: Impregilo’, http://www.ilisu.org.uk/impregilo.html

‘Energy Resources’, http://www.invest.is/page.asp?Id=603

Landsvirkjun home page: ‘Role and Ownership ‘, http://www.landsvirkjun.com/EN/category.asp?catID=276

‘The Alcoa/Landsvirkjun Sustainability Group’, http://www.karahnjukar.is/EN/xml_display.asp?CatID=398&xml=landsvirkjun

Alcoa website, ‘Fjarðaál: setting a new standard in aluminum production’, http://www.alcoa.com/iceland/en/home.asp

EthicalConsumer , September/October 2002, ‘bacofoil bandits’, http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/magazine/corpwatch/alcoa.htm

Western Australia Forest Alliance, ‘Alcoa Forest Destruction’, (includes pictures) http://www.wafa.org.au/articles/alcoa/alcoa2.html

Earth First Action Update, Spring 1998, http://www.eco-action.org/efau/issues/1998/efau1998_12.html

Bectel home page, ‘March 2004 Milestones’, http://www.bechtel.com/Briefs/0304/Milestones.htm

‘Alcoa taps Bechtel, HRV, to build Iceland smelter’, Reuters via Climate Ark, June 9, 2003 http://www.climateark.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=23391

CorpWatch, ‘Bechtel: Profiting from Destruction’, June 5th, 2003, http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=6975