Smelters are set to sprout in Sarawak to guzzle the energy that is expected to be produced by Bakun Dam, now that the government appears to have given up on the submarine cables.
This is the situation at the moment:
Press Metal Sarawak Sdn Bhd-Sumitomo Corp
Current capacity – 60,000 tonnes.
First phase – 120,000 tonnes.
Second phase – 240,000 tonnes.
Salco: Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS)-Rio Tinto Alcan
Planned capacity – 720,000 tonnes. This would make it one of the largest in the world.
GIIG Holdings Sdn Bhd-Aluminium Corp of China Ltd (Chalco)
Planned capacity – 330,000 tonnes.
The power for these energy-intensive plants is likely to come from Bakun. Sarawak state wants to acquire the dam for RM6.2 billion, but the final cost of the dam is around RM7.3 billion. (Who will bear the difference?)
With all these smelters coming on line, it’s only a matter of time before spin-offs and upstream refining come in. That’s where the environmental risk will rise.
Check out an analysis of the Hungarian alumina refinery disaster (on the agmetalminer.com website), where red mud with high PH value spilled out.