August 20, 2003
We have just received exciting news from our partners at Fiscalía del Medio Ambiente (FIMA) in Chile. A Toronto-based mining company, Noranda Inc., has canceled plans to build one of the world`s largest aluminum plants. The infamous "Alumysa Project" in central Patagonia called for damming three wild rivers and flooding old growth forests -- threatening dozens of endangered species.
Aluminum production requires enormous quantities of energy. Although Chile does not have a large market for aluminum products and does not possess the aluminum ore necessary for aluminum production, its potential to produce inexpensive hydroelectric power makes it attractive to energy intensive industries.
E-LAW U.S. has worked with advocates at FIMA for many years to protect the environment through law in Chile. At FIMA`s request, E-LAW Staff Scientists Mark Chernaik and Meche Lu evaluated Noranda`s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Alumysa project. Their evaluation revealed that, contrary to Chilean law, Noranda failed to consider alternative locations for the project or the use of clean-burning natural gas imports to power the plant. Another serious flaw in the EIA was its extremely limited information about the flora and fauna that would be impacted by the $2.7 billion project.
I have pasted below the message we received this morning from FIMA`s Executive Director, José Ignacio Pinochet.
E-LAW U.S. congratulates FIMA for its hard work protecting Chile`s unique ecosystems. We also congratulate FIMA`s president, Fernando Dougnac, for receiving the Government of Chile`s 2003 National Environmental Prize for "Protection and Conservation of Biodiversity."
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: ENVIRONMENTAL VICTORY IN CHILE
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 21:22:09 -0400
From: Fiscalía del medio Ambiente
A NEW ENVIRONMENTAL VICTORY IN CHILE:
ALUMYSA HAS CANCELED ITS US$ 2,750,000,000 ALUMINUM PROJECT
Probably the biggest victory in the whole history of the Chilean environmental movement was achieved today, when Robert Biehl, the General Manager of the most predatory project in the Chilean history -- the Alumysa Complex -- officially communicated to the Government that the project has been retired from the Environmental Impact Assessment System, today.
The Canadian Mining Corporation Noranda´s project included the building and operation of an aluminum manufacturing plant and three big dams on the coast of the province of Aysén. This was the largest investment ever proposed in Chilean territory, and the authorities have sold to the company hundreds of hectares of untouched lands at ridiculous prices and giving enormous free rights on the waters of several lakes.
This US$ 2,750,000,000 project was submitted to the Environmental Impact Assessment System on October 29, 2001. After the civic participation process finished and the company received all the comments of the government agencies and all the civic observations, after that the company requested a suspension of the process for 8 months from December 2001. After to submit an addendum on October 2002, the local environmental agency rejected it and required more information. At this point, the process was suspended again for a second addendum until November 2003, but the citizen opposition attracted political support and in the final month several important congressmen and even the President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, expressed concerns and objections.
Since even before the submission of the Project to the EIA System, Fiscalía del Medio Ambiente (FIMA) worked hard on research, dissemination, education and litigation against the project. FIMA acted engaged as part of the biggest environmental coalition in the Chilean history, the Aysén, Reserve of Life Alliance and was the legal entity on charge of litigation strategies and activities.
FIMA`s work continues, because we have two legal actions on process and we cannot just withdraw, because of legal reasons, but we are happy and proud about all the people worked committed to defend our environment and our life to live in a healthy one.
Thanks to all people around the world who has helped and supported this movement. We will continue working together on the future.
FIMA wants to especially thanks to Weeden Foundation, Homeland Foundation, Patagonia, and New England Biolabs Foundation for all their support on this one and other FIMA`s projects on behalf of Chile.
In addition, we want to proudly share with you another recent great achievement: the National Prize on Environment granted by the Environmental National Commission (CONAMA) in the Protection and Biodiversity Conservation category for Mr. Fernando Dougnac, President of FIMA who is a wonderful exemplary model for so much lawyers, in Chile and worldwide.
José Ignacio Pinochet
Fiscalía del Medio Ambiente (FIMA)
Guardiavieja 408, Providencia, Santiago, Chile.
Tel. (56 2) 4217563 - Fax. 4340904
Santiago de Chile, August 19, 2003