One of Two Embargoes Lifted on Norsk Hydro’s Alunorte Alumina Refinery

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Norsk Hydro's Alunorte refinery. Source: Norsk Hydro

A federal court in Brazil lifted one of two production embargoes on Norsk Hydro’s Alunorte alumina facility, as the Norwegian firm angles to bring the facility back to full capacity.

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In October, Brazil’s Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources lifted its embargo against the refinery; however, Alunorte cannot return to full capacity until the federal courts lift their embargoes.

Currently, the refinery is operating at 50% capacity.

“I am pleased with the support from local stakeholders and our employees. We are looking forward to be able to resume operations at Alunorte and restart the full alumina value chain, which will be positive for us and the state of Pará,” said John Thuestad, executive vice president of Norsk Hydro’s Bauxite and Alumina business area.

According to the firm, the civil lawsuit related to the refinery was lifted; however, no decision has been made yet related to the bauxite residue disposal area, dubbed DRS2.

“The decision to lift the embargo came after successful trials of Hydro’s press filter technology earlier this month, in which the firm successfully demonstrated its “state of the art” — in Hydro’s words — technology could process bauxite residues to a high enough standard to satisfy SEMA, the local environmental agency in the state of Pará, that the new treatment area DRS2 would be safe,” MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns wrote in October followed the decision from the Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.

“However, the embargo on DRS2 from the federal court system remains in place; a return to 100% of production capacity cannot be resumed until that court order is lifted.”

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Norsk Hydro noted the Alunorte refinery continues to operate at 50% capacity utilizing the DRS1 system.

“As the federal court’s embargo preventing Alunorte from using its new DRS2 bauxite residue deposit area remains in force, Alunorte continues to utilize the DRS1 depository based on state-of-the-art press filter technology,” Norsk Hydro said. “Alunorte estimates a remaining lifetime of 8-18 months in DRS1, depending on production volume. Further geotechnical studies will be conducted, aiming at verifying an extended lifetime of DRS1.”

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