Sydney Alternative Media - independent, community, non profit, trustworthy

Home ecology action
2002-04 - Action for Aysen in Patagonia, Chile's 11th region threatened by Noranda hydro/smelter




About the picture on the right above: This photo was taken to show solidarity of ecology action sydney with our Chilean environmental colleagues and to give credibility to our fundraising efforts for the Aysen Reserve of Life campaign in Chile. It was taken in the grounds of a leading Chilean group CODEFF which loosely corresponds to Committee of Defense of Flora and Fauna and is the local affiliate of Friends of the Earth International. As you can see it is the middle of winter and Santiago sprawls across the valley floor literally next to the magnificent Andes. It was pretty cold but not extreme.

The people in the photo above right: From left environmental lawyer Patricio Ramos, Mitzi Urtubia - journalist funded by eas here 2002-04, Marisol Frugone - visual artist funded by eas 02-04, Rodrigo Herrara - at this time with CODEFF but soon to be enlisted by Greenpeace Chile, friend Marlene Marquez-Obeid an Australian citizen and interpreter, and myself Tom McLoughlin original founder of ecology action sydney (eas). We also took a second photo to include the President of CODEFF, Jenia, which I hope to post some time.

Our fundraising contributed about $15,000 Australian to their campaign but has now returned to more Australian focussed matters since Sept 2004. We we continue to advocate and educate on the No Alumysa campaign in Chile and feel we have learned and grown as much as they have benefited from the financial help. Bravo, bravo, bravo we say to those good Patagonia campaigners.

Other photos on this page are from the Chilean web page created by our environmental colleagues there.


To understand more of this issue do a google search on the web for 'Aysen Reserve of Life', 'No Alumysa' and possibly 'Noranda'. See web page by our excellent colleagues Mitzi Urubia, Marisol Frugone and team in Chile whom we help to fund from Sydney, at:

See also for instance profile of one local campaigner at:

See also the Friends of the Earth International web entry as follows:

See also article here:

Chileans denounce Noranda project
Environmentalists tour Canadian firm proposing Patagonia aluminum plant


The Gazette
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Patagonia: the name evokes fresh air, spectacular hikes over snow-capped mountains and fly fishing in pristine rivers. But if Noranda, the Canadian mining and metals giant, gets its way, Alsén, situated in the middle of Patagonia in southern Chile, may one day be home to a huge aluminum smelter, as well as the three hydroelectric dams and transmission lines required to power it.

Critics of Noranda's environmental and labour relations record in Quebec joined a Chilean delegation yesterday in Montreal to denounce the project.

´Noranda tells us they are responsible corporate citizens, good employers, very concerned about the environment,´ said Peter Hartmann, an environmentalist who lives in Patagonia, ´but we come here and we learn the opposite.´ Hartman and Chilean member of parliament Alejandro Navarro, who heads his government's committee on natural resources and the environment, have been in Canada for 10 days meeting with Canadian MPs and unions.

Navarro told reporters his country's environmental protection laws are not yet strong enough to police a project like Noranda's.

´There are lots of loopholes in the existing law, and this project will profit from the norms that are missing,´ Navarro said, through a translator. There is concern, he said, that the smelter would hurt the region's emerging ecotourism and salmon fishing.

The $2.75-billion U.S. Alumysa project would produce 440,000 tonnes of aluminum, and, according to its detractors, 1.5 million tonnes of solid and gaseous waste per year. Noranda has filed an environmental impact study, in hope of getting approval from the Chilean environmental agency within nine months.

Noranda needs a corporate partner and funding for the project, so opponents are hoping their public appeal will discourage potential investors and alert Noranda shareholders.

Noranda spokesman Denis Couture said the project would be ´state of the art´ and meet the highest environmental standards for aluminum smelters in Canada.

He said they chose the site in the Aysén region of Chile because of the low cost of water rights and land. He said the groups protesting against the project are actually against any development at all in Patagonia.

´That is not up to Noranda; it is up to the government of Chile.´ He said the project would create 8,100 construction jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs in a poor region. ´If there is a company that should develop in Patagonia, it should be us because we have the technological expertise and ethics and moral standards required.´

But local environmental activists pointed out that Noranda has failed to meet its own environmental promises in the past. Testing at the company's Magnola plant in the Eastern Townships recently showed emissions of dioxins and furans at levels 58 times and 32 times the amount the company had predicted. Noranda plans to close that plant by this month because of changes in the market.
2003 Montreal


A message from Mitzi Urturbia in Chile 28th Feb 2003. Mitzi is the national communications director for the national Aysen Alliance in Chile and works for CODEFF the local affiliate of Friends of the Earth International

"Dear Tom [Ecology Action Sydney]:

I want to thank you the constant support materialized in them contribute financiers that Ecological Action has delivered to the cause Not Alumysa, since we know that this collection has not been easy to manage to existing so many problematic of economic, environmental, and social level because of projects and private initiatives undertaken with so much economic force from sectors and of government. Besides, the possibility to support this cause has permitted us to develop and to deliver our potencialidades professional, what has been very comforting and owes themselves mainly upon pushing that you .... gave us in a complex moment.

Mitzi Urtubia

***** Espal!!
Querido Tom:

Quiero agradecerte el constante apoyo materializado en los aportes
financieros que Acci Ecolica ha entregado a la causa No Alumysa, ya que sabemos que esta recaudaci no ha sido fil de conseguir existiendo tantas problemicas de nivel social, ambiental y econica a ra de proyectos e iniciativas privadas emprendidas con tanta fuerza desde sectores econicos y de gobierno. Adem, la posibilidad de apoyar esta causa nos ha permitido desarrollar y entregar nuestras potencialidades profesionales, lo que ha sido muy
reconfortante y se debe principalmente al empuje que uds. .. nos dieron en un momento complejo.




Aysen Reserve of Life, Chile

Alianza Aysen Reserva Devida

No to Alumysa & Noranda!: Norandas Alumysa aluminium smelter and hydro electric project is huge at US$2.75 billion. It will destroy three pristine rivers Rios Condor, Blanco & Cuervo, lakes and forest. It will directly affect the communities of Aysen and Coyhaique and indirectly the whole of the 11th region of Chile, a self-declared Reserve of Life. This project is opposed by farmers, tourism, fishing, medical, labour and environment organisations.

We are seeking your donations and support to stop it! Please contact the Alliance for more: Tom or Marlene at Ecology Action Sydney tel 0410 558838, or 02-9599 8499, email


Campaña en defensa de Aysén

Alianza Aysen Reserva Devida

No al proyecto Alumysa de Noranda!

El proyecto Alumysa pretende instalar una fábrica de aluminio además de represas hydroeléctricas que destruirán más de 10,000 hectáreas de vegetación prístina, lagos y los ríos Cóndor, Cuervo y Blanco. Esta inversión de US2.75 billones afectará las comunidades de Aysén y Coyhaique e indirectamente toda la 11a región de Chile, autodeclarada 'Reserva de Vida'. A este mega-proyecto se oponen agricultores, pescadores, trabajadores, médicos organizaciones turísticas y ecologistas.

¡Apóyanos! Alianza por Aysén y Ecology Action Sydney, Reserva de Vida tel. 0410 558838 y

02-9599 8499, email:


Good sample letter for supporters to use

Good sample letter for supporters to use Edit Text

Hola companeros,

Favor de anadir su nombre y organizacion a esta carta al presidente de Noranda. Si se puede contestar a antes del 4 marzo, estariamos muy agradecidos.

En solidaridad,

Mel Quevillon


Five years ago, Noranda's former President made a highly influential speech regarding the responsibility of corporations to the communities in which they operate. Five years later, Noranda is planning to build a new aluminum smelter in the Aisen Region of Patagonia, Southern Chile. The smelter will require the construction of three hydroelectric plants, six dams, and the flooding of over
10,000 hectares of farm land. It will disrupt the livelihoods of local farmers, the habitats of over 167 different species of animals, the billion dollar
fishing industry, ecotourism, and all hopes of future sustainable growth in the region. It will create over 1.5 million tonnes of waste in the region per year,
polluting the Aisen Life Reserve and compromising the health of the local population. Over 1400 problems were found with the initial EIS, and local groups have started mobilizing against the project through the AIsen Life
Reserve Alliance.

Show your support for them by saying "NO" to Alumysa, and signing the letter below to Noranda's President.

FOR FURTHER DETAILS, SEE (The Halifax Initiative recently released this report - there is a case study on Alumysa which summarizes the issues)

March 5th, 2003

Derek Pannell
President and Chief Executive Officer
Noranda Inc.
207 Queens Quay West, Suite 800
Toronto, ON M5J 1A7

Dear Mr. Panell:

We are writing you to express our extreme disappointment at Norandas proposed aluminum smelter in the Aysén region of Chile, known to be one of the three least contaminated areas on the planet.

We condemn the fact that this project is going ahead despite a long list of expected negative outcomes, and significant opposition by over 20 environmental, community and law organizations. To these voices of opposition,
we add our own here in Canada.

We object to the proposed venture based on the fact that the project will not only be of little benefit to the local economy, but will actually undermine it substantially. Whats more, it will be highly detrimental to the environment,to the social fabric of the community and to the health of the local people in Aysén. These impacts have been flagged in a review of your companys initial Environmental Impact Study (EIS), and are briefly highlighted in an attachment to this letter.

We are sure you appreciate that an EIS is not a mere formality. Rather it is a tool by which companies, governments, and communities can identify likely
consequences of projects, and the possible means of mitigating substantial negative consequences. However, an EIS is also used to determine whether or not a project should actually proceed. Socially responsible corporations recognize that sometimes not proceeding with a project is also a possible option. In our view, this is one of those cases.

Five years ago your predecessor, Courtney Pratt, made an influential speech to the Canadian Club about corporate social responsibility. In it he argued that companies have a responsibility to key stakeholders, such as employees and
NGOs, and to the people of the communities in which it operates. This approach places the overall well-being of people and their communities ahead of raw profit.

While we recognize that Noranda has invested a great deal in preparing for its expansion into southern Chile, we urge you to consider this as an opportunity to show corporate leadership. We urge you to demonstrate that corporate social responsibility is more than window dressing, and forego your plans to go ahead with the Alumysa smelter in Chile.

We shall follow developments with great interest.


Fraser Reilly-King

Coordinator, NGO Working Group
on Export Development Canada,
a working group of the Halifax Initiative Coalition, Canada

Coordonnateur, Groupe de travail d'ONG sur
Exportation et developpement Canada
un groupe de travail de la coalition Initiative d'Halifax, Canada

Halifax Initiative
153 Chapel Street, Suite 104
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Tel: (+1-613) 789-4447
Fax: (+1-613) 241-4170



BY JORGE FERNANDO GARRETON, Canada's Now Magazine, September 2002

Journalist - Periodista, 4 Chestermere Blvd, Scarborough ON Canada M1J 2X6 Tel: 416.439.0030

Santiago -- I remember my first trip to Puerto Coihaique in southern Chile, the majestic Andes on one side of the small valley that leads into the Aysén, part of a large chain of fjords, wild rivers and lakes that has yet to be touched by modern civilization. Large native trees, ancient alerce, some between 1,500 and 2,000 years old, tower into the sky.

Seals and walrus sunbathe on the rocks of the Aysén fjord, feasting on fish and shellfish.

The main dirt road leading south from the major city of Puerto Montt takes over a day to navigate. It's a rough overland trip that can only be made in the summertime and includes a five-hour journey by ferry.

It's just north of here, in the last remaining stand of temperate wilderness forest in Chile's Patagonia, that Canadian mining and forestry giant Noranda wants to carve a deep-sea port and build an aluminum smelter.

In Coihaique, where the beginnings of a green sustainable economy centred around ecotourism are taking root, there is oppostion to the project. Three hydroelectrical dams on three wild rivers, creating an artificial lake that will flood some 13,000 hectares of land, and some 50 kilometres of service roads will have to be built to service the facility.

But in nearby Puerto Aysén, local unions want the high-paying jobs that Alumysa, as the project is known, will bring to the region.

Noranda claims the $2.75-billion U.S. Alumysa, the largest single investment in Chilean history, will create some 15,000 indirect jobs during the height of construction and employ some 1,100 workers, with an additional 5,000 indirect jobs, once the smelter is fully operational.

The Chilean Environmental Commission has raised serious concerns about the 24-volume environmental impact study presented by Noranda.

The commission's consultants submitted some 500 questions in response to Noranda's impact study. The company had until last week (August 31) to respond to the commission's concerns, but two weeks before the deadline received an extension until October 31.

It's small consolation to Tomas Mosciatti. He says there are too many powerful interests at work -- namely the support of big business, the media and government -- to entertain much hope the project will be stopped.

"Noranda scientists have helicopters at their disposal to fly to any point in Aysén to prove that a negative impact on the environment will be minimal," he tells me in his office in Santiago in mid-July.

Mosciatti is not your average environmentalist. He is part owner of a family-owned national radio network. Every morning Mosciatti takes to the airwaves of Radio Bío Bío, anchoring a daily three-hour news broadcast to the nation. In the evening he anchors the drive-home hour-long program. The news organization he leads with his brother, Nibaldo, is the only mainstream news outlet that is voicing any concern in these parts about Noranda's plans.

He fears a continuation of the eco-destruction forest companies have caused since their incursion 50 years ago.

"Natural aquifers and rivers have dried up in the south of the country," he says.

On the other hand, Roberto Biehl, Noranda Alumysa's general manager, speaks of the project from his Santiago office with unbridled enthusiasm. The environmental impact, he says, will be minimal.

He tells me emission controls for the proposed smelter "will be more stringent than those in Canada."

He argues that opposition to the project is "ideological" and comes from a small group of people "who do not want industrialization."

If Biehl comes across as a bit testy, it's because the coalition spearheading opposition to Alumysa, the Alianza por Aysén Reserva por la Vida, has been making much of Biehl's family ties to suggest the fix is in.

Biehl is part of a politically influential family in Chile's ruling centre-left Concertación coalition. His brother John is a former Chilean ambassador to Washington.

Biehl vehemently denies that his political ties have anything to do with the viability of Alumysa. "They try to look for reasons, any reason, to smear us. They create any kind of rumours that have nothing to do with the project."

From Ottawa, Chile's ambassador to Canada, Alvaro Zúñiga, says existing environmental legislation "is the guarantee that all will abide by the law."

He says Chile's international reputation as a country friendly to foreign investment will not be damaged if Alumysa doesn't go ahead.

According to company literature, Noranda interests in Chile have grown to 20 per cent of its entire operation, second only to Canada.

Inshore fishers, salmon farming operators and ecotour businesses who stand to be most affected by the project say Noranda's own data paint a scary eco-picture. Alumysa will require the razing of some 13,000 hectares and produce some 660,000 tonnes of toxic gases and liquid industrial waste per year.

They've filed a lawsuit in Coihaique court demanding the protection of lakes and rivers.

Masciotti adds that the eco-concerns are complicated by geography. The region, he points out, is made up of tens of thousands of small channels that are impassable to ships when the tides empty them.
He points to the possibility of heavy cargo ships running aground. But it's a risk, it seems, that Noranda and its Chilean backers are willing to take in the name of modernization.

Good speech in spanish to Canadian Parliamentarians

Peter Hartman 2003

Agradecemos la invitación y oportunidad a compartir con Uds. nuestra realidad aparentemente lejana, pero que como verán no lo es tanto.

Estamos contentos de estar en vuestro país, del cual no es mucho lo que conocemos. Entre esos conocimientos, esta el que de Canadá proviene la principal inversión extranjera en Chile, país que la recibe con las puertas muy abiertas.

Entre esas inversiones, destacan aquellas de Faconbridge y Noranda que comenzaron a llegar durante la dictadura de Pinochet.

Noranda viene anunciando desde hace doce años un megaproyecto para refinar aluminio en Aisen, la austral región de Chile de la cual proviene. Dicen que están ahí porque hay abundante energía de bajo costo y porque los chilenos somos "simpáticos". Es cierto, en Aisen existe un gran potencial hidroeléctrico, mientras pagamos los precios de energía mas altos de chile y la "simpatía" consiste en regalar nuestros recursos a las transnacionales, permitirles no pagar impuestos, exigirles bajos standard ambientales y laborales, aparte de otras facilidades que terminan corrompiendo la política de nuestro país.

Este proyecto de Noranda, denominado Alumysa, requiere una inversión de 2.750 millones de dólares, para la cual buscan socio y consiste en una refinadora de aluminio con una producción de 440.000 toneladas al año, la segunda del mundo en tamaño, mas su respectivo megapuerto, caminos, líneas de transmisión eléctricas y tres centrales hidroeléctricas, para las cuales se requiere de seis represas en tres ríos.

Entre los impactos ambientales destacan la producción de alrededor de dos millones de toneladas de residuos, algunos tóxicos y peligrosos a la vida, otros de efecto invernadero, la destrucción de tres ríos e inundación de 10.000 hectáreas hogar de 167 especies en categoría de conservación y 40 familias campesinas.

Noranda a cambio ofrece 3.500 puestos de trabajo en promedio, con un máximo de 8000, durante la construcción y en definitiva 1.100 permanente. Pero evita referirse al impacto social y cultural y aquel sobre la infraestructura y las actividades económicas existentes.
Noranda, encandila a los políticos, a los pobres y cesantes de Aisen y Chile con sus millones de dólares y oferta de desarrollo, pero al mismo tiempo declara que solo 3% de las utilidades quedarán en la región y se llevaran, suponemos que a las Islas Caimán donde establecieron sus holdings, el 70% de éstas.

Noranda desde hace 12 años intenta engañarnos, pero una buena parte de la comunidad organizada de Aisén ha logrado evitar que logren sus propósitos.

Eso es porque muchos ciudadanos de Aisen estamos conscientes que nuestra región es de constitución ecológica y cultural reciente y sumamente frágil, uno de los últimos lugares prístinos y poco contaminados del planeta, con las mayores reservas de agua dulce y de bosque nativo de Chile, con la mayor calidad del agua y aire del planeta y con 47.5 % de su superficie declarada Area Silvestre Protegida, mas otro 18% de propiedad fiscal.

Estos grandes valores nos llevaron a declararnos Reserva de Vida, a lo que últimamente se suma una propuesta de declarar la Patagonia como Patrimonio de la Humanidad.

En un seminario que realizamos hace algunos meses, con el patrocinio del Congreso Nacional, se concluye que Alumysa es incompatible con Aisen como Reserva de Vida del planeta y que el desarrollo de otras alternativas sustentables como el turismo, la acuicultura, la ganadería orgánica, la pesca y otras, ofrecerán mas y mejores fuentes de empleo a la región.

En un mundo globalizado, pensamos tiene mas valor ser un lugar excepcional que uno homogeneizado y entre convertirnos en basural industrial o uno con desarrollo sustentable y ser reserva de vida y Patrimonio de la Humanidad, preferimos optar por la segunda alternativa.

Estamos en Canadá para conocer si Noranda efectivamente es tan responsable y benéfica como nos dicen allá. Estamos para recoger el testimonio de las organizaciones y sindicatos canadienses y globalizar la solidaridad. Y estamos acá, para pedirles a los hermanos canadienses que nos ayuden con nuestras aspiraciones y proyecto de Reserva de Vida y puedan colaborar con el desarrollo sustentable de Aisen, en vez de permitir que una empresa que tiene su sede en Canadá ensucie el prestigio de vuestro país.

Noranda corporate backgrounder

MineNews, Noranda to shut Quebec magnesium plantLast Tue, 28 Jan 2003 8:24:58

TORONTO - Noranda Inc. said Tuesday it is shutting down its Magnola magnesium plant in Danville, Quebec, for at least a year due to low prices for the metal. The closure will put about 380 employees out of work. Foreign exports depressing prices, company said.

The company heaped the blame for the depressed prices on the rise in magnesium exports from China.

In 1997, when the decision to go ahead with the project was made, magnesium offered very attractive growth opportunities, on the premise of its inherent strength-to-weight characteristics and the potential demand in the automobile industry,´ said Derek Pannell, Noranda's president and CEO.

´Since that time, the rapidly increasing, low-cost Chinese production, that now sells below the cash production costs of Western magnesium producers, has depressed prices. Chinese producers now supply over 50 per cent of the world's magnesium compared with virtually no exports at all in the early 1990s," Pannell said.

He said plant shutdown could be completed before the end of March, and would last for at least one year but could be longer if magnesium prices do not improve.

Noranda said it will take a $630 million after-tax charge in the fourth quarter of 2002 to cut the book value of its magnesium operations. The company will also take a $28 million after-tax charge in 2003 to reflect the shutdown of the Magnola plant.

The company said that the rationalization is expected to improve its operating results and cash flow by about $100 million.

Separately, Brascan Corp. said it has agreed to subscribe for $300 million of preferred shares which may be issued by Noranda Inc. before the end of February.

Brascan also said its share of the writedown announced by Noranda will represent a non-cash charge of approximately $255 million or $1.44 per share.

While Brascan does not provide guidance on net income, the company reconfirmed its guidance on cash flow from operations of approximately $3.75 per share for 2002 and of $4.25 per share for 2003," the company said.

Noranda announces plans to rationalize magnesium business

Company Cites Major Changes in Global Magnesium Market and
Sharply Lower Prices

TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - Noranda Inc. today announced that it plans to rationalize its magnesium business to respond to major structural changes which have taken place in the global magnesium industry. The rationalization is expected to improve operating results and cash flow by approximately $100 million. An after-tax charge of $630 million will be reflected in the 2002 year-end financial results.

Noranda has initiated discussions with Société générale de financement du Québec (SGF), which owns 20% of the Magnola plant, with respect to temporarily shutting down the Magnola plant until magnesium prices increase and the resumption of operations is financially justified. However, the company will also review with the SGF the possibility of operating the cast-house section of the plant using purchased metal and expanding Magnola's presence in the magnesium alloy market with the introduction of new specialized alloys.

Production Uneconomic at this Stage

In 1997, when the decision to go ahead with the project was made, magnesium offered very attractive growth opportunities, on the premise of its inherent strength-to-weight characteristics and the potential demand in the automobile industry," said Derek Pannell, Noranda's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Since that time, the rapidly increasing, low-cost Chinese production, that now sells below the cash production costs of Western magnesium producers, has depressed prices. Chinese producers now supply over 50% of the world's magnesium compared with virtually no exports at all in the early 1990s.

On many levels the Magnola plant has been successful - the new technology that Noranda developed works and we are producing high-quality magnesium,´ said Pannell. "However, on the basis of the current price and our expectations of future trends, both for pure magnesium and alloys, we have come to the conclusion that continuing to operate the plant in its present form is uneconomic and the wrong decision for the company.

Although we firmly believe in a positive future for magnesium, we are facing reality head-on and adjusting to the developments that have occurred in the marketplace," he said.

The temporary shutdown of the plant and other related restructuring initiatives will improve Noranda's operating results and cash flow by approximately $100 million annually," said Pannell. "The shutdown could be completed before the end of the first quarter, and would last for at least one year but could be longer if magnesium prices do not improve.

There are currently about 380 Magnola employees located at the magnesium operations in Danville, Quebec.

After-tax Charge of $630 million Noranda also announced that it will record a fourth quarter 2002 after- tax charge of $630 million to reduce the book value of its magnesium
business. The charge represents $2.64 per share and will be reflected in the financial results of the Company for the year ended December 31, 2002. In 2003, a further $28 million after-tax charge related to costs incurred to shut down the plant is expected to be recorded. After the write-down, the book value of Noranda's magnesium business will be $300 million.

$300 Million in New Equity

In a separate press release, also issued today, Noranda announced that it has received a standby commitment from Brascan Corporation to purchase $300 million of a new series of Preferred Shares with a dividend rate of 8%. The net proceeds from any future public equity offering will be used to redeem these preferred shares.

Improved Outlook for Noranda

Actions taken over the past 16 months have improved Noranda's earnings capability:

The rationalization of operations, including plant shutdowns, will improve future operating income by $110 million per annum, in addition to the actions announced today.

Exploration and technology expenditures have also been reduced by more than $80 million annually, primarily as a result of having assembled a portfolio of advanced-stage mining projects through acquisitions and discoveries.

Initial savings of $11 million achieved as a result of the alignment with Falconbridge have surpassed expectations.
Liquidity has been enhanced and value surfaced with the creation of the Noranda Income Fund. Today's announcement, which gives the company access to $300 million of cash equity as well as a $100 million of annual cash flow savings, further improves Noranda's financial and competitive position.

The firm actions we have taken, the increased leverage to metal prices achieved by our completed capital investment program and the recently improving metal prices will put us on track to substantially improve shareholder returns,´ Pannell said.

Noranda Inc. is a leading international mining and metals company with more than 48 mining and metallurgical operations and projects under development in 17 countries. Noranda is one of the world's largest producers of zinc and nickel and is a significant producer of copper, primary and fabricated aluminum, lead, silver, gold, sulphuric acid and cobalt. Noranda is also a major recycler of secondary copper, nickel and precious metals. It is listed on The Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NRD).

Noranda will be holding a conference call and webcast today at 9:30 EST. The call will be broadcast live on the internet via

Note to Editors: See separate Noranda release titled "Noranda announces $300 million preferred share bridge financing" also issued today.

For further information: Denis Couture, Vice-President, Communications and Public Affairs, Noranda Inc., (416) 982-7020,,; Lars-Eric Johansson, Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Noranda Inc.,
(416) 982-7139,

Box 282, North Bay, P1B 8H2
tel 705 497 0373; fax 476 7060

Related issue in Iceland - predatory aluminium sector

New York Times 16 July 2002

An Icelandic Battle of Wildlife Versus Voltage


NORTH OF VATNAJOKULL GLACIER, Iceland This is Europe's second-largest wilderness, a high plateau of lakes and virgin rivers, jagged canyons and snowy former volcanoes linked by swards of treeless tundra inhabited by thousands of reindeer and geese.

It is also the alpine spillway for billions of gallons of glacial melt that Iceland's,. national power company plans to use in the $3 billion Karahnjukar hydropower Project, an undertaking so big it equals nearly a third of the country's gross domestic product.

The wildlife-versus-voltage battle has been fought on the banks of many of the world's rivers. But it is being played out here on epic scale across an extraordinary landscape.

The power plant to be built will have one customer: an aluminum smelter owned by Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum company, which is considering investing $1 billion. Alcoa entered the picture only in April, and is hoping to conclude price negotiations with Iceland's government and national power company this week so that work can begin next month, during the short summer. But schemes to dam the area for hydropower have been in the works for decades and have been fought in a see-saw battle for just as long.

Asked why Alcoa would want to enter such a fight, Jake Siewert, an Alcoa spokesman, noted that the company had found "a broad coalition" welcoming it to Iceland. It had considered other locations, including India, Brazil and Vietnam, he said, adding that it would meet opposition anywhere.

"Where's the clean project?" he said. "Do you know of one that has no political impact and that environmentalists are all for?" Hydropower, he added, would at least be cleaner than a coal-fired smelter somewhere else.

For Iceland, which has only about 280,000 people, the project is a grand experiment in social engineering. The test is to see whether dying towns can be repopulated and virtually an entire region's economy redirected from fading fishing industries and skittish tourism.

The smelter is to rest on Iceland's wind-swept eastern fjords, with a view to creating 2,000 construction jobs and 600 to 1,000 permanent ones in a region that Icelanders are deserting in droves. When and if the project is finished, 80 percent of Iceland's electricity will be dedicated to making aluminum.

Other projects, like the Three Gorges Dam in China, cover more landscape and displace more people. But Iceland's endeavor is remarkable for the way it shifts around the basic elements of a fragile ecosystem in pursuit of economic revival.

Outraged environmentalists say Iceland is selling its wild birthright, damaging its eco-tourist image and risking its credit rating to benefit a $23 billion American conglomerate and to win a mere handful of jobs. Prime Minister David Oddsson, who backs the plan, counters by saying thatIceland has profitably taken big risks to attract smelters twice before, that it must keep its rural areas populated and that it will still be able to establish a stunning national park, as environmentalists desire.

"We've calculated that the damage is relatively small," he said in an interview. "And even 600 jobs in this part of Iceland is very important." The present plan was approved by 44 of Parliament's 63 members, including12 members of the opposition. In a poll, 47 percent of Icelanders who responded supported the plan, and 30 percent opposed it.

The chilly tundra north of Vatnajokull Glacier is Europe's second-largest wilderness area, after Svarlbard Island in the Arctic. The latest plan calls for damming up two of the area's three virgin rivers, draining them through 24 miles of tunnels, and then pouring the water through turbines to generate 700 megawatts of electricity. Last August, environmentalists declared victory when Iceland's State Planning Agency killed the plan, saying that the dams would do too much environmental damage and that the economic advantages were vague. But the agency decision was reversed in December by the environment minister, a member of the Progressive Party, which strongly advocates repopulating eastern Iceland.

Environmentalists cheered again this April when Norsk Hydro, the Norwegian aluminum company, backed out after having problems raising money. Its chief executive also said he had doubts about finding enough workers in the east, which has only about 11,000 residents.

But the government vigorously pursued a new customer, and Alcoa's chairman, Alain Belda, told local papers recently that there was "a good chance" it would step in and build a smelter in Reydarfjorur, for the export market. The actual price at which Iceland will sell Alcoa its hydropower is still being negotiated, and will not be made public. But Norsk Hydro was known to be negotiating for around 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, half the rates in the United States and less than a third of some in Europe.

An outspoken opponent of the project, Kolbrun Haldorsdottir of the Left-Green Party, said the government was "not even begging on its knees to the aluminum companies any more: they're amputated; we're on stumps."The country, she said, only bothers to do environmental impact studies because of European Union pressure, and its secretiveness over the price" makes us a banana republic."

Mr. Oddsson, who has been prime minister for 11 years, bristled at this and said: "My opposition has gone bananas. This process is very transparent."

Members of all parties sit on the board of the national power company, Landsvirkjun, he said. A Russian company has also expressed interest, but both the government and environmentalists note that Alcoa says it can coexist with a national park and has a relatively good environmental record. The chief of the American branch of the World Wildlife Fund sits on its board, though she says she has recused herself from anything to do with this project.

There is another plum for Alcoa in the deal. Because Iceland is so pollution-free 98 percent of its buildings have geothermal heat and hot water it negotiated an exception to the Kyoto accord on greenhouse gases, so Alcoa will not have to pay penalties for the carbon dioxide emissions that its smelter will produce.

The company has agreed to do the dirtier parts of its operation overseas. It may switch to new low-carbon dioxide technology and will supply the plant by ship rather than truck. Environmentalists remain hostile, but less to the smelter than to the dams.

The current plan calls for eight of them across tributaries of the two rivers, Jokulsa a Dal and Jokulsa i Fljotsdal. The small, high-altitude reservoirs on the Fljotsdal would drain through tunnels into a huge new reservoir on the Dal. It, in turn, would drain through a 24-mile-long tunnel over the edge of a plateau, through the turbines, and then back into the bed of the Fljotsdal where it widens into a lake.

There would be, environmentalists complain, a multitude of effects.

Helgi Hallgrimsson, 67, who has opposed the project for decades and calls it a potential "world-famous example of short-sighted politics and subservience to foreign capital," contends that 100 waterfalls between 6 feet and 130 feet high will be lost.

Honnun, the engineering consulting firm that coordinated the environmental impact study, contends that only three will be lost. But they only include waterfalls submerged by dams, while Mr. Hallgrimsson includes those dried up when the stream above disappears.

Dimmugljufur, the Dark Canyon, a cleft in the earth full of troll's caves and basalt columns that the power company's own brochures call "Iceland's most dramatic canyon," will itself be dammed at its entrance and bone dry in all but the wettest months of the wettest years.

Disgusted opponents say the waterfalls will be turned on and off like spigots when tourists are expected in the brief July-August hiking season.

The new Halslon reservoir behind the dam would cover 22 square miles, much of it vegetation where 1,500 reindeer graze. As a result, environmentalists argue that a third of the reindeer will die, though Skarphedinn Thorisson, a wildlife biologist who has studied them since 1979, was more cautious. "There will be some mortality," he said, "but I can't estimate how much."It is hoped that the geese who nest there, who are not endangered and whose flocks have been increasing, will find new nesting areas. The damming is also likely to make Lake Lagarfljot, an east Iceland landmark already milky white from glacial silt, become browner from mud, affecting trout and arctic char. It may also shift the common delta that both rivers share, which may affect harbor seal herds.

Environmentalists are angry that the power company has already graded roads and built tourist overlooks with billboards describing the dam, even before it had permission to build.

"If you live here, it's very difficult to say you're against it," said Karen Erla Erlingsdottir, a member of the Organization for Protection of the Eastern Iceland Highlands, who lives in Egilsstadir, on the Lagarfljot Lake. "All the politicians like it and say it's the only thing that can save the area."

Gudmundur Bjarnason, the mayor of Reydarfjorur and two other coastal towns, says 90 percent of his 3,000 constituents want the smelter. "We can't live on tourism," he said. "The season is short and the jobs pay very low. Smelter jobs pay well, and they need 60 percent high school graduates. We need to get our young people back."

The Iceland Nature Conservation Association, which is the World Wildlife Fund's local partner in fighting the project, has sued to overturn the environment minister's ruling, and another environmental organization, Landvernd, is lobbying aluminum companies, trying to get them to shy away from the project.

Each side has had economists produce studies showing that the venture can or cannot be profitable. Both depend on assumptions about the price of power that has not yet been set.

Arni Finnsson, director of the Conservation Association, said hydropower is not "renewable energy" as its defenders claim. "That dam will fill up with sediment, and future generations will have to deal with it," he said. "It's like mining: it's not sustainable."

Prime Minister Oddsson called the environmentalists "pessimists" forever predicting disaster and demanding new studies. "There are endless numbers of flowers you can count," he said, "but most people admit that this is finally close."

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

Peace boat visits Aysen Reserve of Life in 2003




Con 600 turistas, en su mayor estudiantes de nacionalidad japonesa, el 8 de febrero llega a Chile Peace Boat el Barco de La Paz, siendo Puerto Montt, su primer punto de arribo, tras su paso por Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Vietnam, Singapur, Kenya, rica del Sur, Namibia y Brasil. Los pasajeros que se embarcaron en Tokio, el pasado 10 de diciembre,

visitar Puerto Montt, Valparao y la Isla de Pascua, respectivamente, oportunidad en la que tomar contacto con organizaciones sociales y ambientales y visitar lugares de inter turtico y cultural de nuestro pa.

Peace Boat es una organizaci no-gubernamental, con sede en Tokio que centra sus actividades en un barco que navega alrededor del mundo creando espacios que contribuyan a la bqueda de un mundo m sustentable para toda la humanidad. Ya sea a trav de sus actividades educativas a bordo o durante las estads en los puertos que visita, Peace Boat brinda la oportunidad para que sus participantes conversen, conozcan e interactn con representantes e integrantes de organizaciones, movimientos sociales, proyectos humanitarios locales y escuelas, entre otros. En el coraz de su filosof est?la creencia de ser Hacedores de Paz. Igualmente Peace Boat trabaja en la bqueda de nuevas propuestas de turismo sustentable y su accionar se remonta al a de 1983, siendo este, su viaje el nero 40 a lo largo del planeta.

A bordo del Peace Boat se encuentra una delegaci de estudiantes universitarios para los cuales el programa contempla cursos de resoluci de conflictos y cultura para la paz. Estas actividades forman parte de una propuesta llamada Universidad Global, la cual combina los estudios formales con una metodolog de aprendizaje adquirido a trav de experiencias directas en los puertos. Esta experiencia da a los estudiantes un entendimiento prtico de las temicas que enfrenta el mundo y les proporciona herramientas para introducir en sus actividades propuestas y acciones de cambio al servicio de la humanidad.

En este recorrido por el hemisferio sur, Peace Boat incluy?en su programa de actividades, las temicas de la globalizaci, VIH-Sida, Foro Social Mundial y Cambio Climico. Durante su estad en Chile, sus participantes acceder a charlas y videos sobre la estrategia de desarrollo para la Regi de Aisen y su enorme potencial como polo de desarrollo para el ecoturismo. Asimismo recibir informaci sobre los alcances del megaproyecto Alumysa, el cual propone implementar en la prtina zona de Aysen una planta reductora de aluminio, tres centrales hidroeltricas y un puerto de gran calado en Bah Chacabuco (entre otras obras), con una inversi de U$ 2.750 millones. Ambos temas ser tratados a bordo del barco por Jenia Jofre y Peter Hartmann, Presidenta y director de CODEFF Amigos de la Tierra. En estas actividades tambi participar? el senador Antonio Horvath, qui ha sido invitado en su condici de Presidente de la Comisi de Medio Ambiente del Senado.

En su regreso a Jap, el recorrido del barco incluye el arribo a Tahit? Samoa, Ponpey (Micronesia) para posteriormente llegar a Tokio y Kobe, su destino final, en un recorrido con un total de 96 ds.


8 de febrero. 06:00 horas. Llegada a Puerto Montt.
11 horas: Recepci de Prensa a bordo del Barco.


Mar de la Fuente, Coordinadora Internacional Peace Boat; Jenia Jofr?

Presidenta CODEFF; Antonio Horvath, Presidente Comisi del Medio

Ambiente Cara de Senadores; Alejandro Navarro, Presidente Comisi de

Medio Ambiente Cara de Diputados.

20 horas. Salida de Puerto Montt, con destino a Valparao.

11 de febrero. 10:00 horas. Llegada a Valparao.

12:00 horas. Recepci de Prensa a bordo del Barco.


Jenia Jofr? Presidenta CODEFF; Antonio Horvath, Presidente Comisi del Medio Ambiente Cara de Senadores; Alejandro Navarro, Presidente Comisi de Medio Ambiente Cara de Diputados.

12 de febrero. 21:00 horas. Salida del Puerto de Valparao, con destino a Isla de Pascua.

18 de febrero. 06:00 horas. Llegada a Isla de Pascua.

18 de febrero. 18:00 horas. Partida de Isla de Pascua con destino a Papeete, Tahit?

Mayores informaciones en:


Myriam Carmen Pinto.

Coordinadora Comunicaciones.

Comite Nacional Pro Defensa de la Fauna y Flora.


Telono 2747461 fax 2691978

non-profit media about your environment, in a human rights and social justice context