Reuters reports that China National BlueStar, a state-run specialty chemicals company, is poised to acquire all or part of Elkem AS – a Norwegian company that has a foundry in Iceland.
While Elkem of Norway bills itself as environmentally friendly, with their website stating in part that they promise to “recycle up to 180 GWh per year, halve dust emissions, reduce noise and improve the working environment overall,” Elkem’s history in Iceland has been anything but green.
The Icelandic foundry, located in Grundartangi, Akranes, produces ferrosilicon, which is a prime ingredient in steel production. In July 2007, human error resulted in a cloud of gas escaping from the furnaces in the foundry, with a spokesperson for the company saying that such errors happen “on a weekly basis”.
Ferrosilicon plants are major contributors to the release of greenhouse gas emissions. The materials used in the process are also mined from Jamaica and the Republic of Congo, with mining contributing to the environmental degradation of both countries and to corruption present in the latter. It was precisely this level of pollution that prompted Saving Iceland to engage in direct action protests in 2008.