06. June 2008

IPC builds pot rooms at Helguvík

The world’s first geothermal-only aluminium smelter

Today Nordurál and Iceland Prime Contractor (IPC) signed an agreement concerning the construction of pot rooms for the Nordurál aluminium smelter at Helguvík in Southwest Iceland. At the same time, ground was broken formally in a well-attended ceremony. Preparatory work has begun on the worksite, and the construction of the pot rooms will commence this year. The project also involves construction site set-up, groundwork, casting, pre-casting of units, steel construction, cladding, and various finishing tasks.

The total cost for the first phase of the smelter, which will be brought into use before year-end 2010, amounts to ISK 70 to 80 billion. Based on current aluminium prices, the estimated export value once the first phase is in full operation is approximately ISK 35 billion per year. The plant will employ some 400 workers, and derived or indirect jobs in the locality are estimated at an additional 600.

Icelandic focus

Ragnar Gudmundsson, Managing Director of Nordurál, welcomes this development and looks forward to a satisfying collaborative relationship with IPC. “Iceland Prime Contractor has extensive experience of large development projects, and the company’s roots are right here on the Sudurnes peninsula.” According to Ragnar, it is gratifying that the Helguvík aluminium smelter will be the first in the world to be operated solely with geothermal power. “At Grundartangi we collaborated with Reykjavík Energy and Sudurnes Regional Heating to build the first pot rooms that are exclusively geothermal-driven. The effective collaboration between these two companies has provided all parties with new knowledge and expertise and has created new opportunities for advancement. The preparation for the Helguvík project has been characterised by very effective co-operation with energy companies and local residents. The citizens of the Sudurnes community have been exceptionally supportive. Stringent demands are made of us – as regards environmental issues and appearance design, for example – but it has been fun to work towards finding solutions to these matters together with the members of the community. The result will be a state-of-the-art aluminium smelter that we can be very proud of.”

Gunnar Sverrisson, Managing Director of Iceland Prime Contractor, says the Helguvík project has come at a good time for the construction industry and for Icelandic society. “Iceland has seen a considerable contraction in construction activity since the conclusion of the aluminium smelter / power station project in East Iceland. The residential housing market has also slowed down in recent months. At present, IPC has an ample supply of projects on hand, and the construction of the Helguvík aluminium smelter will ensure that this will continue. I believe the Helguvík smelter construction is an example of a macroeconomically beneficial project that will inject activity into the economy at exactly the right time. I think it will give the economy the chance for a softer landing than it would otherwise have experienced, without causing overheating or distorting the Icelandic employment market.”

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