Background for the choice of the site of the aluminum plant
In January 2007 the then Minister of Industry, Labor and Vocational Training, Siverth K. Heilmann, asked the municipal authorities of Nuuk, Maniitsoq and Sisimiut to consider whether they were interested in making a bid for the proposed aluminum project. All three municipal authorities declared their interest, after which they were charged with identifying potential sites for the location of the proposed aluminum plant. As part of these preparations, the political and administrative management of these municipal authorities travelled to the east of Iceland in order to see at first hand the aluminum plant and hydroelectric power station that were being constructed there.
The demands and requirements of the project with respect to the location of an aluminum plant were as follows:
- An area of approx. 0.5 square miles (0.5 x 1 mile) of relatively flat land for the actual construction, in addition to a buffer zone of 0.75-1.15 square miles around the plant.
- It had to be possible to establish a temporary camp for up to 2000 personnel in the vicinity of the chosen site.
- There had to be access to fresh water.
- It had to be possible to establish an ice-free deepwater harbor (minimum depth of 53 feet and a minimum length of 985 feet).
- A location that resulted in a relatively short road or ferry connection to a town.
The three municipal authorities each proposed three interesting and carefully considered areas as potential sites. In Maniitsoq and Sisimiut the municipal authority in question's own proposals were debated at public meetings and subsequently adapted on the basis of the comments received.
The chosen sites of the municipal authorities were then handed over to Alcoa, which looked at all of these sites during the spring and summer of 2007. The number of options was then reduced on the basis of issues related to the project itself.
In order to identify the project's final proposal for the site of an aluminum plant, more detailed surveys of the remaining proposals were carried out. This process took into account factors such as engineering, economy, logistics, location of hydroelectric power plants, transmission lines and environmental considerations. At the same time, Greenland's Home Rule Government carried out a Strategic Environmental Assessment in 2007, which was independent of the project engineering considerations and which made a further contribution in terms of environmental considerations and other aspects to the political decision concerning the location of the site.
There proved to be good agreement between the best site in economic/engineering terms and a solution that was considered to be sound from an environmental perspective and in terms of regional policy. During the spring session of 2008, Greenland's parliament, Landstinget, agreed to adopt the recommendation put forward by the project and the government by choosing Maniitsoq ‘site C' as the site of the new plant.
You can see the original proposals for the choice of site from all three municipal authorities here.