Canadian Publication Retracts Björk Interview After Magma Threatens Libel Suit

19.11.2010
Words by Anna Andersen and Haukur S. Magnússon
On November 9, Maclean’s Magazine posted an interview with Björk called, “In Conversation with Björk: Why the Icelandic singer wants a Canadian company booted from her country.” Shortly thereafter, the interview was retracted from Maclean’s website after Magma threatened the magazine with a defamation suit.

Among their defamation complaints is Björk’s statement: “Companies owned by Ross Beaty have a bad reputation for breaking serious humanitarian and union laws in South America—not giving farmers shares of profit they had promised and so on—but this is normal. This is the kind of beast you’re dealing with....”

Although Björk referred to Ross Beaty rather than Magma Energy, it was Magma Energy that threatened to sue Macleans if the article was not retracted. In fact, Björk was referring to Ross Beaty’s company, Pan American Silver, which is a mining company operating in South America.

On November 12, Macleans posted a correction, which reads as follows: “On the 9th of November Macleans published on its website an interview with Björk where she claims that Ross Beaty and Magma Energy Corp. have broken laws in South America. This is not correct and we apologize to Ross Beaty and his company.”

In conversation with the Grapevine, Björk said, “I don’t think Magma's qualms are about their reputation in humanitarian rights. That’s more likely a ruse.”

Björk thinks Ross Beaty is more likely concerned about her statements regarding geothermal energy not lasting for thousands of years. In the Macleans interview, Björk said: “…He has said that geothermal energy lasts for 1000 years. This is not true. It lasts about 50 years. Geothermal plants work similarly to mines, you drill and then there is only a limited amount down there. When magma’s current 65-year deal is over, the hole will be empty.”

She told us there are two things Ross Beaty seems to be trying to hide from investors, both current and potential. First, geothermal energy does not last forever. Second, Beaty does not have access to 400 MW of geothermal energy.

“On various widely watched business shows in Canada, he has been talking about having access to 400 MW of geothermal energy and that geothermal energy lasts forever and is entirely renewable,” Björk said. “That’s how he sells the idea to investors and it’s simply not true. If this information were to be featured prominently in Canada, his whole venture could fail.”

In the “corrected” version, which now appears on the Maclean’s website, all of the remarks Björk refers to are also missing.

After repeated attempts to contact Magma Energy and its investors regarding the facts in question over the past week, the Grapevine has been met with hostility and downright refusal to answer any of our questions via phone or email. According to their VP of Corporate Relations Alison Thompson, Magma Energy and HS Orka have established a new policy that the companies will "not be participating in media requests from The Reykjavík Grapevine".

We might also note that the ever-tasteful Magma's font of choice for 'corporate' e-mail correspondence is Comic Sans. Blue Comic Sans!

The full original interview can be seen here.

The new version of the Maclean's article can be seen here.

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