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Utkal continues without Norsk Hydro

It is now clear that Norsk Hydro is selling out of the Indian mining company Utkal Alumina for the sum of 6 million dollars. The two other companies involved in the project, Indal and Alcan will take over the shares.
Artikkelen er mer enn to år gammel. Ting kan ha endret seg.
It is now clear that Norsk Hydro is selling out of the Indian mining company Utkal Alumina for the sum of 6 million dollars. The two other companies involved in the project, Indal and Alcan will take over the shares.


By Jørn Stave
Norwatch

An agreement was made between the three partners of Utkal during the companys board-meeting 16 to 17th of January. The agreement says that Indian company Indal, increase their share from 20 to 55 percent, while Canadian Alcan takes over the remaining share.

- The agreement depends on Indian government to approve the sale, but this is just a formality, says manager of Hydro Aluminium's department for social responsibility, Ivar Oellingrath.

Cuts all ties
Norsk Nydros withdrawal means that also funding local aid-projects will come to an end. Oellingrath exhaults that the remaining partners will probably continue the work to secure local support for the development plans.

- All our work in India has been through Utkal Alumina, and I see no reason that Indal and Alcan will not continue this work. It is however not natural for us to participate in further work as we are selling out of the project.

The Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) representative Fredrik Gjernes is critical to this point of view. Norwegian Church Aid have always had the opinion that Norsk Hydro must contribute finding a solution before they pull out from the project.

- Social responsibility means that the company must tidy up the mess they have created, says Gjernes. He thinks new consultations with locals and redesigning the project can lead to a sound development.

- Anyway Hydro must make it as a condition to sell, that human rights and the environment will be secured for all development by Utkal. If it is not possible to make such a deal with the other owners, Hydro should wait with the sale of the share and through their negative control in the company make sure nothing happens before locals rights are secured, Gjernes states.

Financial loss
Norsk Hydro are selling their share for 6 million dollars (approx. 53,7 million NOK). Even before any construction has begun, Norsk Hydro has invested around 80 million NOK in the Utkal-project. In addition to the loss, the company no doubt is left with broken dreams. Utkal Alumina was profiled as the world's most profitable bauxite and alumina project, and would secure supplies for Norwegian aluminium production.

In a recent statement to the daily newspaper Klassekampen, Director of Information Thomas Knutzen said:
- This is a kind of issue that makes us wiser, but not richer.

Facts: Utkal Alumina
Norsk Hydro owns 45% of the shares of Utkal Alumina International Ltd, and has also pointed out the (konsernsjef). The other partners are Canadian Alcan (35%) and Indian Indal (20%). According to the recent sales-agreement Indal will own 55% of the company and Alcan 45%. Utkal Alumina hopes to build a bauxite mine and alumina refinery in Kashipur of the state Orissa in Inda. A majority of the locals have resisted the projects from the very beginning. They will loose valuable land for food and they fear for their water resources. The proposed mining area is on a mountain that is holy for the Adivasi, the local indiginous people.

Norwatch Newsletter 1-2/02

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