Aluminium smelter plant
Deliberations about an aluminium smelter plant
In May 2007, the Government of Greenland signed a deal with the US aluminium corporation Alcoa Inc. to explore the options for establishing an aluminium smelter plant with a production capacity of at least 360,000 tonnes per year in Greenland.
The deal with Alcoa Inc. covers both the concept of an aluminium smelter plant and, linked to this, exploration of the possibility of two hydroelectric power stations with the necessary infrastructure development, including a harbour. Alcoa is one of the world’s largest producers of aluminium, and the company has a long history of developing and operating foundries in an eco-friendly manner.
A site near Maniitsoq has already been decided for the smelter plant, and a number of local and national community consultations have taken place. If the studies conclude that the project is feasible, the civil engineering works are scheduled to begin in 2010 for the hydroelectric power station and in 2012 for the smelter plant. It is thought that the aluminium smelter plant would be up and running at full production capacity by 2016.
The aluminium industry provides the opportunity for us to utilise our hydroelectric power resources for the benefit of the development of industry and employment in Greenland, according to Siverth K. Heilmann, former Member of Parliament for Industry, Labour and Vocational Training, in a press release November 2008. At the same time, the project accords completely with the Cabinet’s long-term goal of replacing hydrocarbon-based energy production with hydro-electric power, especially with regard to the global environment.
Locating the smelter plant in Greenland means it can be operated on hydro-electric power. The smelter plant will increase local emissions, but the production – based on hydro-electric power – will reduce carbon emissions globally. This is because an aluminium smelter run on hydro-electric power emits CO2 in the smelting process, but not from energy production. By contrast, in most smelter plants connected with aluminium production, the energy production – based on oil, coal or gas – alone emits nine times as much CO2 as the emissions from smelting.
According to Inatsisartut - Parliament of Greenland, the aluminium smelter plant will increase Greenland’s CO2 emissions by 90 %, but there is an expectation that a new climate agreement will take account of these circumstances and reward energy-intensive industry that harnesses the potential of hydro-electric power.
Implementation of this project will be one of the biggest investments ever in the history of Greenland. At full scale, the project will create 475 direct, stable jobs locally.