November 24, 2006
Feasibility study at Bakki promising

The results of the first phase of a feasibility study on a new alumininum smelter at Bakki near Húsavík have been introduced to the local public. Around 80 people attended an introductory meeting in Akureyri, while 200 people attended a similar meeting in Húsavík.

No active fissures are on the intented smelter site and the probability of a volcanic eruption endangering the smelter is considered very low. It is also considered highly unlikely that an eruption would endanger more than one power station at a time. According to the report,  a smelter would not have a considerable impact on wildlife in the area.  No visible technical obstacles prevent the building of a smelter at Bakki.

This and other related information was presented at the well attended meetings organized by Alcoa, Nordurthing Community and the Economic Development Associations of Eyjafjördur and Thingey in Akureyri and Húsavík recently. The purpose of the meetings was to introduce the results of the first phase of the feasibility study regarding the possibility of building a 250,000 tpy smelter at Bakki near Húsavík. The research process is divided into three stages.

The high temperature geothermal area around Húsavík will likely power the smelter. Research in the area looks promising and it has been discovered that the geothermal area by Þeistareykir is twice as big as researchers assumed, or around 45 square kilometers. The bottom temperature of the new test drill hole in Þeistareykir is 360° C, the highest temperature measured in an Icelandic drill hole. A hole drilled for the project in Bjarnarflag in Mývatnssveit, turned out to be very powerful. Its electrical capability is 12 Mw, whereas the average capability of an Icelandic drill hole is around 5 Mw.

The fact that Bakki is a known earthquake area has to be taken into consideration if a smelter is to be built there. This will result in higher construction costs which comes as no surprise to Alcoa.

The meetings produced many interesting questions, like how big would the smelter be and would it possibly be extended. Alcoa's representatives replied that the size of the smelter would depend on the available energy. At the moment, plans are for a 250,000 tpy smelter, mainly powered by local geothermal energy. If energy supplies increase in the future, Alcoa would have to consider whether or not to enlarge the smelter. Such a decision would also depend on the will of the locals, as well as the Icelandic  government.

Alcoa is very pleased with the results from the first phase of the research process and work on the scond phase has already. Findings for the second phase will be introduced in April 2007.

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A full house

About 200 people attended the Húsavík meeting, filling the community hall. The picture shows some of them.

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Guests also filled the hall in Akureyri, where this picture was taken.

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TV interview

The photo shows Tómas Már Sigurdsson, Director of Alcoa Fjardaál, being interviewed by NFS national TV network in Iceland, after the meeting in Akureyri.