Salmon farmers in the Aysen province of southern Chile threatened to pull out of the area if the Alumysa aluminum smelter project of Canada’s Noranda (NYSE: NRD) goes ahead, Santiago’s La Segunda newspaper reported.
The Chilean association of salmon farmers claimed the plant would contaminate the pristine zone’s water with 300,000t/y of fluoride, which would spell the end of the local salmon industry.
Claims by Toronto-based Noranda that in Norway and Iceland aluminum smelting and salmon farming are compatible, are not valid in Chile because in Europe the plants are at least 100km from the farms, whereas Alumysa would be within a few kilometers of salmon operations, association leaders said. They also argued that in Norway and Iceland the wind blows mainly from the land to the sea, causing the fluoride to be diluted with seawater, whereas in Aysen the winds are predominantly from ocean to land.
Noranda presented an environmental impact study for the US$2.75bn project in August last year and has until the end of October to respond to objections to the plant, which the Canadian company wants to build on a fjord in southern Chile’s Region XI.
Alumysa is designed to produce 440,000t/y primary aluminum and generate 758MW of power from three hydroelectric plants.
Salmon farming in the region currently brings in sales of US$120mn/y but this figure is expected to rise to US$1.26bn by 2010 when the plant would be operating, according to the association.