The Multinational Monitor

MARCH 1981 - VOLUME 2 - NUMBER 3


A U S T R A L I A

Smelter Fight

Alcoa currently has plans to build a new $A350-400 million aluminum smelter near Portland in the southeastern state of Victoria.

As in other parts of Australia, critics of the smelter project object on several grounds:

  • Alcoa would be charged an estimated 1.2 per kilowatt hour while household users pay more than twice those rates. '
  • The smelter will have an output capacity of 120,000 tons and generate about $A 100 million in revenue, creating at most 1,900 new jobs - but that represents a cost per job of almost $A200,000.
  • Alcoa has selected a site which contains landforms that have spiritual significance for the Gunditj-Mara tribe of Aboriginals, as well as irreplaceable flora and fauna.
  • The plan calls for 500 kilowatt power lines to be erected over a distance of more than a hundred miles through farm land, timber land, population centers, and areas of scenic, recreational and historic value. The lines would have an easement of from 200 to 262 feet in width, and would range from 48 to 70 meters high. Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere have determined that people, livestock and plants within the immediate range of the electromagnetic radiation produced by high voltage lines suffer from a variety of negative biological effects.

At present, construction has been halted pending the claims of a state Supreme Court decision against the Aboriginals' claims, but both the government and Alcoa have full intentions of completing the project.


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