The basis for determining the location of the smelter plant

In January 2007, the incumbent Minister for Industry & Labour, Siverth K. Heilmann, asked the then municipalities of Nuuk, Maniitsoq and Sisimiut, to consider whether they wanted to attract the proposed smelter project. All three municipalities declared an interest and were then tasked to identify possible sites for the location of the proposed smelter plant.

The project’s requirements and wishes for a location of a smelter plant were:

  • An area of approximately 140 hectares (0.8 x 1.5 km) of relatively flat land for the actual building area. Add to this a buffer zone of 200-300 hectares around the plant.
  • A temporary work camp had to be established for up to 2000 workers around the selected site.
  • There must be access to fresh water.
  • It must be possible to establish an ice-free deep-water port (minimum depth of 16 metres and a minimum length of 300 metres).
  • A location that provides a relatively short road connection or ferry service to a town.

The three municipalities each provided three interesting and well-considered areas as possible sites. In Maniitsoq and Sisimiut, the municipality’s own proposals were debated at public meetings and subsequently adapted in the light of the comments received.

The sites selected by the municipalities were then transferred to Alcoa, which during the spring and summer of 2007 studied them all. Subsequently, the number of choices was reduced based on project engineering considerations.

In order to identify the project’s final proposal for a site for a smelter plant, more detailed studies were carried of the remaining proposals. In the selection, importance was placed on conditions such as engineering, economics, logistics, location of hydroelectric power plants, transmission lines, as well as respect for the environment. At the same time, Greenland’s Home Rule Government conducted strategic environmental assessment (SEA) 2007, which independently of the project engineering considerations, contributed with environmental concerns and aspects to the political position of the site.

There turned out to be good accordance between the best economic/engineering location, and a solution that seemed sound both environmentally and in terms of regional policy. At the spring assembly in 2008, the Landsting (Parliament) were in consensus to join the project and the Home Rule Government’s stance to choose Maniitsoq as the location.