The federal court in Belém has revoked an embargo on Alunorte alumina refinery, which it had been operating for more than a year with half its capacity, Norwegian Norsk Hydro said in a statement this week. The unit, the world’s largest alumina maker and key supplier to the aluminum industry, was operating with court-ordered restrictions on the discovery of illegal dumping of untreated effluent from the Amazon forest in February last year. The resumption at Alunorte can leverage Hydro’s profit in the short term, company chief executive Hilde Merete Aasheim recently said. The company also said that production at Hydro’s bauxite mine (alumina feedstock) at Paragominas will be expanded according to the speed of the Alunorte production resumption. A decision to increase production at the Albras primary aluminum plant, of which Hydro is a shareholder, is expected shortly, Hydro said in a statement this week. The federal court’s decision to lift the embargo comes after a hearing last month. The company added that Alunorte could reach 75-85% use within two months. “The resumption of production at Alunorte is an important step towards normal production at our strategically important operations in Pará and a basis for our agenda to strengthen robustness and profitability throughout the value chain,” said the company’s CEO in note this week. Alunorte has an annual production capacity of 6.3 million tons. It is expected that an additional press filter will come on stream in the unit in the third quarter of 2019, further increasing capacity thereafter. The company pointed out, however, that an embargo by the Federal Justice is still in force, which prevents Alunorte from using its new Solid Waste Depot (DRS2) area. The company added that in the meantime, will continue to use the DRS1 “depot with modern filter press technology”. It was not immediately clear whether the company could re-operate at 100 percent capacity if the embargo on DRS2 remains in effect.

Source: Reuters