March 6th, 2003
President and Chief Executive Officer
207 Queen’s Quay West, Suite 800
Toronto, ON M5J 1A7
Fax: (416) 982-7423
Dear Mr. Panell:
We are writing you to express our extreme disappointment at Noranda’s proposed aluminum smelter in the Aysén region of Chile, known to be one of the three least contaminated areas on the planet.
We condemn the fact that this project is going ahead despite a long list of expected negative outcomes, and significant opposition by over 20 environmental, community and law organizations in Chile. To these voices of opposition, we add our own here in Canada, and others from across the Americas and around the globe.
We object to the proposed venture based on the fact that the project will not only be of little benefit to the local economy, but will actually undermine it substantially. What’s more, it will be highly detrimental to the environment, to the social fabric of the community and to the health of the local people in Aysén. These impacts have been flagged in a review of your company’s initial Environmental Impact Study (EIS), and are briefly highlighted in an attachment to this letter.
We are sure you appreciate that an EIS is not a mere formality. Rather it is a tool by which companies, governments, and communities can identify likely consequences of projects, and the possible means of mitigating substantial negative consequences. However, an EIS is also used to determine whether or not a project should actually proceed. Socially responsible corporations recognize that sometimes not proceeding with a project is also a possible option. In our view, this is one of those cases.
Five years ago your predecessor, Courtney Pratt, made an influential speech to the Canadian Club about corporate social responsibility. In it he argued that companies have a responsibility to key stakeholders, such as employees and NGOs, and to the people of the communities in which it operates. This approach places the overall well-being of people and their communities ahead of raw profit.
Noranda was also one of the major corporate sponsors of the Minerals, Mining and Sustainable Development Project. Yet this proposed smelter in Southern Chile transgresses the ideals and goals adopted by Noranda as a signatory to the Toronto Declaration.
While we recognize that Noranda has invested a great deal in preparing for its expansion into southern Chile, we urge you to consider this as an opportunity to show corporate leadership. We urge you to demonstrate that corporate social responsibility is more than window dressing, and forego your plans to go ahead with the Alumysa smelter in Chile.
We shall follow developments with great interest.
Fraser Reilly-King, Coordinator
The NGO Working Group on the EDC
Falls Brook Centre
David B. Brooks
Director of Research
Friends of the Earth - Canada
Ontario Public Interest Research Group – Carleton
Coordinator, Forest Campaign
Toronto Environment Alliance
Canadian Environmental Law Association
La Federacion Amigos de la Tierra - Argentina
Proyecto Lemu / Epuyen Patagonia,
Campaign on the Environmental and Social Impacts of Mining,
Friends of the Earth International,
COECOCEIBA-Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica
DECOIN - Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag
New Economics Foundation
Institut für Internationale Forstwirtschaft
Hellenic Mining Watch
JATAM -Mining Advocacy Network
CEMDA- Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental
Miguel Palacín Quispe
CONACAMI PERU - Coordinadora Nacional de las Comunidades del Perú Afectadas por la Minería
American Lands Alliance
Director, International Program
Chile Program Director
International Campaign Director
Mineral Policy Center