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Noranda halts environmental evaluation of Alumysa project

January 17, 2003

The Canadian mining company Noranda Inc. requested that Region XI's Regional Environmental Commission (Corema) delay the evaluation of the Alumysa aluminium project's Environmental Impact Study (EIS) until November this year.

"Noranda's request aims to give the company more time to prepare their answers to observations and amendments made by several public and private organizations on the project's EIS," Corema explained. This is a new delay in the development of the US$2.7 billion project, which includes the construction of an aluminum processing plant, three hydroelectric plants, a port in Chacabuco Bay, an industrial landfill, the construction of a 94 kilometer road and 79 kilometers of electricity lines. The complex should produce an average of 440,000 tons of aluminum per year.

Last week, Region XI' Corema asked Noranda to submit new information on the Project before approving or rejecting the Alumysa complex.

This is the second time Noranda has asked for an extension of the deadline of Corema's decision. The project remained halted between December 2001 and October 2002, as the company requested more time to respond to observations and amendments included in the first report on the project.

The Alumysa project was originally presented by Noranda eight years ago, but strong opposition from environmental groups and salmon producers has delayed its development. Of all the initiatives included in the project, the most controversial one is the construction of the aluminum plant. Salmon producers in Southern Chile's Region XI have said an aluminum plant residues will hurt the salmon producing activity.

The president of the Salmon and Trout Producers Association (SalmonChile), Victor Hugo Pucci, said if the project is approved, all salmon companies with processing plants and growing centers in Region XI will leave the area. "I have no doubt that 100 percent of the companies will leave the area... The aluminum plant will be incompatible with the
development of the salmon industry," he said.

If the project is approved by Corema, the company said, Noranda will start looking for a possible partner to finance the huge investment necessary for developing the project. The company estimates the construction of the Alumysa project should take between four and five years, generating close to 1,000 job positions every month.

Source: El Diario By Victor Henriquez

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