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Mozal – an aluminum smelter with a production capacity of 495,000 tons per year – is located approximately 20km west of Mozambique's capital, Maputo. IFC has two active projects with Mozal, one constituting a $110 million quasi-equity and loan for the construction and operation of the smelter, and the other a $25 million loan for doubling the production capacity to produce an additional 250,000 tons per annum of aluminum metal. IFC's first investment with Mozal was approved in 1997, while its second dates from 2001. BHP Billiton, a publicly traded international mining and metal group, is the primary sponsor of both projects.
In October 2010, a coalition of local and national NGOs representing themselves and other locally affected people submitted a complaint to the CAO, raising several social and environmental concerns related to the Mozal project. The complainants maintain that Mozal’s bypass program – a 6-month program which is expected to release air emissions without passing through the emissions treatment centers while these are being rehabilitated – will violate a number of IFC’s policies and procedures. The complainants are concerned that the bypass program will result in harmful exposure to themselves, other communities residing in the area, and the environment at large. The complaint also raises questions about the environmental and social due diligence undertaken to approve the bypass program, and the availability of project information to relevant stakeholders.
The CAO found the complaint eligible on October 27, 2010. As part of the Ombudsman assessment process, the CAO has initiated a preliminary round of conversations to better understand the situation and explore options of resolution with the parties.
A CAO Ombudsman assessment is on-going.
Case Status: Open
Contributor(s): This article was modified by Ejfturnbull (2).