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Pará state lifts Alunorte's production embargo

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Pará state lifts Alunorte's production embargo

Norway's Norsk Hydro took an important step forward to resuming operations at one of its biggest assets in Brazil, the Alunorte alumina refinery (pictured) in Pará state.

The company said on Wednesday that the local environmental authority (Semas) "has issued a technical note attesting that Hydro Alunorte can safely resume normal operations and has on this basis lifted the production embargo."

However, Hydro said, Semas' authorization to lift the embargo does not allow for the immediate resumption of full operations at Alunorte, as a federal court embargo remains in force.

"We have informed the [federal] court about Semas' decision to lift their embargoes on Alunorte and expect the court to take this decision into consideration. But we don't have a timeline for when the court will look into this," Hydro's senior VP of media relations, Halvor Molland, told BNamericas.

RESTART OF OPERATIONS

Molland affirmed that Alunorte can initiate restart procedures immediately when the court lifts the embargo, but Hydro does not have a fixed schedule for the duration of the restart.

"A restart will also influence the value chain, including Paragominas and Albras – both currently running at 50 percent of their capacities due to the Alunorte embargo," Molland added.

Alunorte, the world's largest alumina refinery, was ordered by Pará state authorities to cut output by 50% on March 1 following heavy downpours in mid-February that led to floods and discharges of untreated rainwater from the refinery.

Meanwhile, Hydro decided to curtail 50% of aluminum output at its Albras aluminum plant on April 10, which in turn affected bauxite output at the company's nearby Paragominas mine.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Norsk Hydro also has operations in Argentina, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

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