Posts Tagged ‘alutrint’

Govt pulls plug on smelter

Please refer to article from Trinidad Express


Letter to Ministers

June 14th 2010

1 Kerria Drive

La Florrissante


Phone: 646-8794, 771-5181

Honourable Minister of Energy and Energy Industries

Ms Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan

Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries

Level 26 Tower C

International Financial Center

1 Wrightson Road

Port of Spain

Dear Ms Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan,


Following our email, our hand delivered letter, and our telephone conversation of May 31st, June 1st and June 5th we once more urge a stop or halt to the construction of the alumina storage silo at the National Energy Corporation/Alutrint port at La Brea. Communications with officials at both Alutrint and the NEC indicate to us that they are awaiting directives from the Ministry of Energy on this facility. Work is continuing apace at this 45,000 ton smelter silo on public holidays and on weekends. Three photos of the smelter silo were taken in January and on May 29th 2010, and were sent to you. In addition, the photos below were taken on Saturday, June 12, 2010.

The 45,000 ton smelter silo, located on the La Brea port facility, is a large and expensive project. One week ago there was another bout of concrete pouring, and work continues at a frenzied pace. The silo’s planned height is about ten stories. So far the foundation has been laid, and first ring of outer walls is now being fabricated. If it is the intention of the People’s Partnership Government to stop the proposed Alutrint smelter, this facility must be halted. A halt will save the taxpayers considerable costs in a project already fraught with profligacy and very weak planning.

We urge that there is no legal impediment to immediately halting and reviewing this smelter silo. We did meet with all the partners of the People’s Partnership over the last four weeks and we were pleased to note that they all stated their position to stop, or halt and review the Alutrint smelter. We also noted what seemed to be the overwhelming agreement of the population with this position.

We reiterate our position that we regard the power plant and port facilities as potentially viable. The proposed smelter, which currently has no Certificate of Environmental Clearance, is not economically viable; it is destructive to the economy of Trinidad and Tobago, and poses severe health and ecological risks to the people of the South West Peninsula. We are currently working on proposals to locate viable industries on the proposed smelter site on which no construction has started, which would use both the electricity from the power plant and the port.

This matter must be a concern to all ministries and ministers in the Peoples’s Government, in particular the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministries of Planning, Health, Finance, Housing and the Environment, Public Utilities, Legal Affairs, Sport and Youth, Commerce and Industry, Education and Community Development. We are therefore taking the opportunity to send a copy of this letter and attachments to all the relevant Ministers and Ministries.

We shall be available to meet with you at your earliest convenience should you require additional information or assistance on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely

Wayne Kublalsingh

Dr Peter Vine

Elijah Gour


La Brea Concerned Citizens United

Smelta Karavan

Cc: Hon. Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Hon. Winston Dookeran

Hon. Mary King

Hon. Stephen Cadiz

Hon. Rudi Moonilal

Hon. Jack Warner

Hon. Anil Roberts

Chief Servant, Makandal Dagga

Hon. Errol McLeod

Hon. Prakash Ramadhar

Hon. Lincoln Douglas

Hon. Anand Ramlogan

Hon. Ramona Ramdial

Photo enclosed with letter to Ministers_1

Alutrint smelter silo under construction. The first ring of walls about to be started.

Alutrint smelter silo under construction. The first ring of walls about to be started.

Photo enclosed with letter to Ministers_2

Alutrint smelter silo under construction. The first ring of walls about to be started.

Alutrint smelter silo under construction. The first ring of walls about to be started.


The correct way to stop the Alutrint smelter is to keep the power plant, keep the port, stop the smelter, and immediately call a halt to the frenzied building of the 45,000 tons alumina silo. This way will save the nation millions of dollars.

According to the affidavit of Leroy Mayers, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, Chairman of Alutrint, Member of the boards of both National Energy Corporation and the Trinidad Generation Unlimited power plant, the total cost of the smelter project was US $1.4 billion. The cost projected for the power plant was US$708 million, the port and silo US$166 million, and the smelter US$540 million.

No work has started on the smelter; this matter is before the Appeal Court. The power plant is almost complete, so is the port. The logical thing to do is to keep the power plant, keep the port, and stop the smelter. Develop a cluster of industries on the empty smelter spot to use the electricity from the power plant that was designated for smelter. A number of such industries have been suggested to the authorities, which could use both power plant electricity and the port.

When the smelter is stopped, the Trinidad and Tobago economy would have gained, not lost. The cost of gas alone, not even counting other raw material inputs like alumina, would bust the smelter. Anyone who still feels that the benefit of smelter would be more than the cost, please read the following:

DR LLOYD BEST called smelters a “major mistake”. In June 2004, Curtis Williams reported: “Best was concerned the country was allowing its resources to be used in a smelter with little return to the country.”

PROFESSOR JOHN SPENCE, UWI Professor, former senator, columnist: “My conclusion is definitely, that we should not smelt bauxite or alumina in Trinidad. This is based on the social, health, environmental, economic and governance issues.” (April 2006)

PROFESSOR JULIAN KENNY, former senator and UWI Professor. In newspapers articles dating back to 2004, Professor Kenny has condemned smelter as a threat to biodiversity, the ecology of the South Western Peninsula, our health, and to prudent land use planning. “And where will the wastes go in this country of 260 persons per square kilometer? Not near Port of Spain and certainly not near San Fernando East. Fluorides? Spent pot liners? Anodes? Solid wastes?” (June 2005).

PROFESSOR DENNIS PANTIN, UWI Professor and columnist. Smelter should be rejected if there is no information on: “alternative uses of the natural gas inputs, the land space in … La Brea relative to alternative uses of the gas, land space and other human and financial costs which the society would have to incur: all based on full disclosure to the ultimate shareholders: i.e. the citizens, residents and taxpayers of T&T.” No Cost Benefit Analysis or Account Sheet on Alutrint has been given to the Parliament or Public after six years.

PROFESSOR SELWYN RYAN, UWI Professor and columnist: “One wonders whether Williams would now insist in building the smelter on the terms that are apparently being considered and which do not seem to be of much benefit to Trinidad and Tobago.” (July 2006)

MARY KING, Economist, former Senator and Head, Joint Select Committee of Parliament, established to consider the proposed aluminum smelter: “Nothing has come to the Parliament and little to the general public which defines and justifies the creation of an aluminum industry with respect to the feasibility and optimum use of our diminishing natural gas reserves, its impact on the environment, the levels of earnings from the sale of gas and a comparison with the longer uses to which this gas can be put in the context of Peak Oil.” (May, 2006). In September 2009, Ms King rejected Alutrint outright at a symposium on the Economics of Alutrint. She gave six reasons why Alutrint is an economic bust.

REG POTTER, Analyst, “It will take discoveries of 1.5 trillion cubic feet per year to simply stand still and at present we have only 12 years of gas production rate left. The time is passed due for a total moratorium on all new gas-related projects before the country is totally ruined.” (July 2006)

MARTIN DALY, Attorney, columnist. “If we install an Emperor and the Emperor is for smelter, we the people will be the waste.” (August, 2002).

DR STEVE SMITH, Medical Doctor, former President of the Medical Board: “The potential environmental onslaught that will occur, in the wake of the construction of an aluminum smelter in the South West Peninsula of this country, constitutes the single most significant threat to gains achieved through advances in “public health” during my own lifetime.” (July 2007).

MRS KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR.: “I made it clear today that a UNC Government would take into account the wishes of the people with respect to the PNM’S “done deal” smelters and terminate any deal that they have made in the absence of meaningful dialogue with the communities and transparent accounting to the people of this nation.” (October, 2006). In 2009, a letter was sent by UNC-led Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to the Acting Auditor General enquiring after Alutrint’s accounts. No Accounts.

MR WINSTON DOOKERAN, COP leader, Economist, former Governor of the Central Bank: “Giving away our gas for these [aluminum] projects is really giving away our patrimony. Is this really the best way to use a very finite resource?” (June 2006).

MR MAKANDAL DAGGA, NJAC leader. “No Smelter”. Smelter is ruinous to our economy, our resources and our lands, peoples and communities.

A silo is currently being built on the port at Labidco, La Brea. This silo is smelter-specific. It is being built to accommodate 45,000 tons of alumina for a smelter which is not going to happen. Work is going ahead full speed on this silo, on weekdays, public holidays and weekends. This silo must be stopped immediately. The port and power plant must continue. This is the correct way to stop the smelter.

Wayne Kublalsingh

The Book- Be Smelter Smart

Be Smelter Smart

Dear Readers,

Please click on the link below for an electronic version of the book Be Smelter Smart by Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh.


The Cool Truth, Conrad

International Financial Center. Cool name. But it is not cool to practice, at the highest level of this Center, Level 26, the rooms housing the Ministry of Energy, financial imprudence, malfeasance and misdirection of the lowest order. It is not cool to embark on highly capital intensive, energy intensive without conducting due diligence studies; it is not cool to do high consumption health and ecological projects without a cost benefit analysis. Nor is it cool to fail, for every single year for four years, to provide an audited statement of accounts for this project, as is required by laws established by the Investments Division of the Ministry of Finance.

And it is definitely uncool to misdirect the public and the media telling them that a speech by Dr Lenny Saith, a compilation of articles by Professor Clement Sankat, and a listing of ideas by Professor Ken Julien and Mr Philip Julien, constitute either a cost benefit analysis, or an account sheet. These things are not cool to do because, finance, like water, or carbon, travel. Just as high carbon emissions in smelter and steel (1,900,000 tons per year) impact on poverty in Haiti, or sea level rise in Bangladesh, a credit crunch in Wall street, a center of finance, could trigger a global recession. The real reason for this credit crunch, as articulated by Washington, and by economists such as Professor Joseph Stiglitz, was false accounting: financial imprudence, malfeasance and misdirection by financial leaders.

The top floor of the International Financial Center must really do the cool thing: tell the truth. Tell the truth using the method which has been devised by financial theorists and managers to determine the feasibility of projects: the figures and facts of a cost benefit analysis. Tell the cool truth by employing the method used by theorists of accounting to provide control and substantiation: the figures on an accounting sheet.

What have been the costs factored in for smelter: the loss of three dams; 1000 acres of forest, beekeeping industries, farms and orchards; the loss of oil wells and well capping; infrastructural costs; the costs of loans for smelter, power plant and port; relocation loans for at least three communities; the cost of gas subsidies to the power plant for the supply of electricity to smelter; the costs of salaries to Alutrint for four and a half years; legal costs (high court, appeal court, English QC); the costs of rod mill, cable and wire plants; the costs of technical services, engineering, soil testing and consultancies; Environmental Impact Assessments costs; administrative costs borne by the EMA, the NGC, the NEC, the Ministry of Energy?

And propaganda costs for public relations events, “consultations”, newsletters, media ads and programs, bussing in supporters, jerseys, sponsorship of football, fetes and food; the cost of raw materials, all of which, save scarce gas and water, will be imported; the cost of producing a ton of aluminium compared to costs in China, Venezuela etc; the foreign or local disposal of the dangerous spent pot lining; the costs of transportation, marketing, the transformation of aluminium ingots, particularly in view of the fact that Alutrint has lost its 40% partner SURAL; the health and carbon costs?

What method has been used to evaluate health and carbon costs? What measure has been used to evaluate costs acknowledged by all Alutrint’s consultants: the smelter will impact negatively on baseline levels for human health, soil, water, air and vegetation. And carbon costs? What is Alutrint going to pay for its millions of tons of carbon emissions? 80 US$ per ton, 100$, 150 US$?

Could Alutrint, the Ministry of Energy, the National Energy Corporation, Professor Ken Julien and Dr Lenny Saith refute the irrefutable evidence that smelter, if properly accounted for, would not gain a single copper cent for the peoples, communities or government of Trinidad and Tobago? Could it refute the clear evidence afforded by our most senior economists that smelter is the wrong economic fit for Trinidad and Tobago?

The top floor of International Finance Center must understand its fiduciary responsibilities: it must account not just to the people of La Brea, but to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the international community. It’s just not cool to attempt to hide and prevaricate on financial and carbon accounting anymore. Hiding the first could crash the global economy, prevaricating on the second would crash the human species.

Wayne Kublalsingh

University of the West Indies

St Augustine