Nothing but sloppy words in Alcoa’s response to serious concerns

But can you tell us what the concerns were? We are essentially talking about a public health problem. Can you tell us what the concerns were?

“Again, there are a number of issues that are raised as part of the routine back-and-forth. We have done extensive work to provide additional monitoring.”

Why don’t you tell us what those concerns were?

“Well, again, it’s a typical process of evaluating what we’re mining and where we’re mining.”


Weasel words are part of an authority figure’s attempt to give the impression that they are saying something specific and useful when they are only vague and unclear.


If this is part of a well thought out media and communications strategy, then another piece of advice would be don’t bother.

When Bear finished, the response from the audience was to indicate that Alcoa had something to hide.

Text messages to the station welcomed the decision to further pressure the vice president of a company that generates $12 billion in annual revenue from its exceptional rights to access and clear thousands of acres of forest. Back to the interview:

There was a general concern that the plans you had didn’t address those concerns. Is that right?

“Well, again, it’s a back and forth process and when we get the information, like we always do, we go out there and try to figure out how to provide that additional information and we take those steps,” said Bear.

Rob, if that was an exhaustive answer, then the concerns were pretty serious, weren’t they?

“Again, it’s a typical process of going back and forth.”

Alcoa has undoubtedly brought prosperity to the towns near its mine sites. It has employed people and given families a future.

As a caller said after Bear’s interview, the world is still consuming aluminum products. So expect Alcoa to continue clearing trees from forests to dig up bauxite under decades-old government agreements.

“The aluminum product we manufacture is an incredibly important part of our daily lives, whether it’s the car you drive, the mobile phone you use or the plane you fly in, and it’s only going to play an even bigger role in the future play,” said Bear.

But the bigger picture, according to public and secret government reports, is the environment.

On the one hand, the McGowan administration is committed to ending logging in native forests by phasing out the industry by 2024.

On the other hand, deals made before climate change was ever considered still allow mining companies to bulldoze and burn jarrah trees as if they just didn’t matter to the landscape.

They are of concern to black cockatoos, with two species now listed as vulnerable and one as vulnerable. On 6PR we asked:


Do you think your company contributed to this?

“We constantly follow best practices in our rehabilitation work,” Bear said. “I’m very proud of that.”

More than 9,000 hectares of forest immediately north of the Serpentine Dam are the next target for Alcoa’s bauxite strip mining, which is part of an operation that would run until 2035.

I ask you again. What concerns have been raised by three government agencies regarding the water in Serpentine?

“Here, too, the process of cooperation with the authorities is a joint process.”

The Western Australian public has a right to know these concerns and Alcoa has no right to offer anything but sloppy words.

The Morning Edition Newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Login here. Nothing but sloppy words in Alcoa’s response to serious concerns

Brian Lowry

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