02 April 2008

Storm in an aluminium smelter

South Africa would not have a power crisis if there were no big aluminium smelters, said Valli Moosa, the chairman of the Eskom board, and former Minister of Environmental Affairs, but this as a sensitive matter, as the row between Standard Bank and BHP Billiton shows.

Both mining giant BHP Billiton and South African banking group Standard Bank were on Friday tight-lipped over the name of a senior bank executive who made remarks that led to the diversified miner taking its business away from the firm.

This came after financial daily Business Day reported that a Standard Bank senior executive had suggested at a Business Leadership meeting with government that BHP Billiton should shut down its power-heavy Richards Bay Hillside aluminium smelter because it added little value to the economy.

"All I can say is that BHP Billiton can confirm it has taken a corporate decision to phase out its business links with Standard Bank," BHP Billiton spokesperson Bronwyn Wilkinson told Mining Weekly Online. "The reasons behind this decision have been conveyed to the bank."
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Moosa was speeking at a public meeting at St Martin's School Hall, Rosettenville, arranged as part of the annual conference of the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI).

For more on his speech see SAFCEI: Eskom is one of the biggest polluters in the world.

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