April 9, 2008
North Iceland Public Meetings Bring Update on Proposed Smelter

On April 3, 2008, more than 500 people attended a public meeting held in Húsavík, North Iceland, to provide project updates and discuss next steps for Alcoa’s proposed 250,000 metric-ton-per-year smelter in Bakki and related infrastructure projects.

Key information conveyed during the meeting included the following:
  • The city of Húsavík has completed a new area plan to account for the possible utilization of geothermal resources in Thingeyjar County. The plan, which has been approved by the local municipalities and confirmed by the Minister for the Environment, covers the protection and utilisation of geothermal areas and high voltage power lines for the entire area.
  • Landsnet has submitted a draft environmental impact assessment (EIA) for high-voltage electric cables from Krafla and Theistareykir to Bakki. Preparations are also underway to strengthen the electric transmission grid in Northeast Iceland to link securely new power stations and the smelter to the national grid.
  • Landsvirkjun has begun experimental drilling at the geothermal areas of Theistareykir, Bjarnarflag, Krafla, and Gjástykki. Initial results have been promising, and the outcome is expected by the end of 2008.
  • An EIA and a main area plan have been completed for a power station at Bjarnarflag. A draft EIA for Theistareykir is being handled by the Planning Agency, and a draft for an enlarged power station at Krafla will be submitted soon.
  • HRV Engineering, a consultant to Alcoa, has concluded research on the possibilities and effects of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and ice packs, for the EIA studies.
  • Alcoa will soon submit a proposal for the smelter EIA and will subsequently begin the necessary research. In addition, the company will begin a sustainability initiative in cooperation with Landsvirkjun and Landsnet. The initiative will be based partly on the experience of a comparable initiative that was started for projects in East Iceland.
If the project proceeds as expected, Alcoa expects the new smelter in Bakki will be fully operational in 2015. A final decision on whether the company will build the smelter depends on the outcome of studies on available power in the area, the price of energy, the EIA findings, feasibility study results, time plans, and the market situation.
Significant power can be harnessed in the area, and its price is of crucial importance to the construction and size of the smelter. Alcoa has expressed interest in replicating its success in Reydarfjordur by building a smelter the same size as Fjardaal (346,000 metric tons per year) at Bakki.

Click image to enlarge.

Photo: Ari Pall/ATTHING

Large meeting

More than 500 people attended the meeting in Husavik, and here you can see part of them, including members of the constituency's congressmen.