|This article is outdated. (November 2010)|
Location of the Municipality of Fjarðabyggð
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The town is at the bottom of the eponymous fjord, the largest on the east coast of Iceland. Like most other towns in the East Fjords, it is surrounded by mountains, of which the highest is about 972 metres (3,189 ft). Although the climate is particularly rainy and foggy, on clear summer days it often has the highest temperatures in Iceland.
From the early 20th century, Reyðarfjörður was a trading port, as well as a fishing port. Due to its strategic location and good harbour conditions, it became the second-largest of the Allied bases in Iceland during World War II. There is a World War II museum located at the old camp above the town.
Fjardaál aluminium smelter
A quiet fishing town since the war, Reyðarfjörður (and neighbouring communities) saw a revival in the early 2000s when Alcoa decided to build the Alcoa Fjardaal smelter there. It was built between 2004 and 2007 by the contractor Bechtel, requiring thousands of workers from various countries, most notably from Poland. At one point, the town had the highest concentration of foreign residents of any community in the country, and the number of workers reached as high as 2800. By 2008, the construction workers had left, but townspeople have faith in the aluminium plant for the continuing prosperity of their old community, and surrounding communities.
The Fjardaál aluminium smelter reached full production capacity in April 2008. The facility contains a smelter, cast house, rod production and deep-water port. The smelter employs 450 people and produces 940 tons of aluminium a day, with capacity of 346,000 metric tons of aluminium per year. Fjardaál means "Fjords aluminium" in Icelandic. For the smelter, the new Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant was built.
Notes and references
Media related to Reyðarfjörður at Wikimedia Commons