Greenland Parliament backs Alcoa smelter, hydro complex

Greenland’s Parliament has endorsed the Home Rule Cabinet’s recommendation to study a smelter and hydroelectric power complex at Maniitsoq with Alcoa of the United States.

Alcoa said May 13 the Parliament agreed to advance to a second phase of joint feasibility studies and allocated significant funding to the studies, which will extend through 2009. Studies are to assess economic, social, and environmental aspects of the proposed facility.

Parliament is to reconvene in 2009 to consider Greenland’s ownership position in the project.

Greenland’s Home Rule Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Alcoa in 2007. (HNN 5/24/07) The MOU encompasses a 340,000-metric-ton-per-year smelter, the unspecified hydroelectric system, and a port. The Greenland government said the exact size and cost for the overall venture would be determined when the project plan is finalized.

If the project is found to be viable, groundbreaking for the hydropower system is expected in 2010, followed by the smelter in 2012. The smelter would begin operation in 2014-2015.

Alcoa was chosen as a partner for the complex in preference over Norsk Hydro of Norway. (HNN 6/7/07)

At 2.1 million square kilometers, Greenland is the largest island in the world. More than 80 percent of the country is covered by ice cap. Its 57,000 people are mainly of Inuit origin.

Although located between Canada and Iceland, Greenland is historically, politically, and economically closely related to Denmark. However, its popularly elected Home Rule Government has a high degree of autonomy.

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