Alcoa in talks on Iceland aluminium smelter
Representatives of the U.S.-based company visited a possible smelter site in eastern Iceland last week, she told Reuters.
"Alcoa officials have been here to discuss the matter with us and other Icelandic parties, such as power group Landsvirkjun," Sverrisdottir said.
"Although we haven't begun formal negotiations, it is fair to say that we are discussing the matter seriously," she added.
Alcoa declined comment beyond a company statement that said it was assessing the possibilities of building a smelter and that further discussions between Alcoa and Icelandic parties would take place in the next weeks.
Sverrisdottir said it was too early to predict the results of the discussions.
Alcoa entered the picture when Reykjavik began looking for new investors to help build the smelter when original partner Norsk Hydro , a Norwegian industrial conglomerate, said it would postpone a decision whether to participate in the project.
Sverrisdottir said the decision had not put an end to talks with Norsk Hydro, but that the government was focusing on Alcoa for the time being.
A decision was expected within the next two months after Alcoa had conducted a feasibility study.
The project has caused controversy in Iceland, where some environmentalists say the smelter and the hydro power plant needed to generate the electricity to run it could damage wetlands in the region.