The Brazilian federal court lifted the final embargo on Alunorte’s new bauxite residue disposal (DRS2) under a criminal lawsuit, allowing the alumina refinery to resume activities of installation and commissioning at DRS2 and ending a 19-month embargo period which has restricted activities at the plant.
“This is a milestone for Alunorte and will contribute to our agenda towards a more profitable and sustainable Hydro,” said Hydro President and CEO Hilde Merete Aasheim.
The decision by the federal court to lift the DRS2 embargo under the criminal lawsuit came after a decision on Friday, September 20, to lift the DRS2 embargo under the civil lawsuit.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Federal court lifts final embargo on Alunorte deposit area
The Federal Court of Pará lifted the embargo on Alunorte's new bauxite residue disposal (DRS2) under the civil lawsuit. The decision to lift the DRS2 embargo in the civil case against Alunorte came after Ministério Público and Alunorte submitted a joint petition to the federal court on August 30, requesting the embargoes to be lifted.
Alunorte was still subject to an embargo on DRS2 imposed by the same court in a parallel criminal lawsuit.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Federal Court lifts one of two embargos on Alunorte’s deposit area DRS2
Alunorte, Hydro and Ministerio Publico Federal filed a joint petition to the Federal Court in Belem to lift the embargoes on the new bauxite residue deposit area – DRS2. The activities were suspended on March 1, 2018, following a court ordered embargo.
The joint petition aims to allow the Alunorte alumina refinery to resume its installation and commissioning activities at DRS2. The petition came after Alunorte, Hydro, Pará state environmental agency SEMAS and Ministerio Publico Federal signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing an agreement regarding the necessary measures to resume commissioning activities at the new, state-of-art deposit area.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Ministerio Publico Federal, Hydro and Alunorte provide Federal Court with joint petition to lift DRS2 embargoes
Albras’ Board of Directors decided to restart aluminium production at the Albras aluminium plant in Brazil. Albras curtailed 50% of its production in April 2018.
The decision to restart Albras came after the decisions by the federal court in Belem, Brazil, to lift the production embargoes on Alunorte on May 15 and May 20, allowing Alunorte to ramp up towards normal production.
Read more in Hydro's press release: Albras resumes normal aluminium production
The federal court in Belem, Brazil, lifted the production embargo on the Alunorte alumina refinery under the criminal lawsuit on Monday, May 20, allowing Alunorte to ramp up towards normal production after running at half capacity for more than a year. No decision has been taken on the embargos on the new bauxite residue disposal area (DRS2).
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Federal court lifts remaining production embargo at Alunorte
The Federal Court in Belém, Brazil, lifted the production embargo on Alunorte under the civil lawsuit. The refinery is still subject to a production embargo imposed by the same court in a parallel criminal lawsuit. No decision has been taken on the embargos on the new bauxite residue disposal area (DRS2).
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Federal Court lifts one of two production embargos on Alunorte
The action is aimed at people who prove their residence in the region of the Murucupi basin in Barcarena in February 2018. The proof will enable the residents previously identified to receive the temporary social benefit, as established in the Term of Adjusted Conduct (TAC) signed by Hydro, Alunorte, Government in the State of Pará and Ministério Público.
The Federal Court in Belém held a conciliatory hearing between Ministério Público and Alunorte to discuss the production embargos for Hydro’s Alunorte alumina refinery.
At the hearing, Ministério Público and Alunorte provided the court with a joint petition to lift the production embargos. The Government of Pará was represented by the State Attorney.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Ministério Público and Alunorte provide Federal Court with joint petition to lift production embargos
During the hearing, Ministério Público and Alunorte provided an updated to the judge regarding the assessment being carried out by expert technicians on the reports from SEMAS/FADESP and ATECEL/University of Campina Grande (UFCG), which concluded that Alunorte can resume operations.
Judge Arthur Pinheiro Chaves, from the 9th Federal Court, scheduled a new conciliation hearing for April 12, when he will have the opportunity to listen to the technical experts. However, the time for a court decision remains unclear.
Alunorte has agreed with Ministério Público to have third-party technical assistance to assess whether reports from SEMAS and the University of Campina Grande, both concluding that Alunorte can safely resume normal operations, comply with technical parameters and relevant applicable rules.
If the third-party assessment supports the conclusions, Ministério Público will file a petition in the Federal Court in Belém confirming it would not oppose lifting Alunorte’s production embargo. The agreement schedules a timeline for the assessment to be concluded in April. It does not include a timeline for the decision to be made by the court.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Update on Alunorte situation
The environmental agency in the state of Pará, SEMAS, has issued a technical note attesting that Hydro Alunorte can safely resume normal operations and has on this basis lifted the production embargo.
The lifting of the production embargo from SEMAS does not allow for immediate resumption of full operation at Alunorte, as the embargo of the Federal Court remains in force.
"SEMAS decision is an important recognition that Alunorte’s operations are safe."
— John Thuestad, EVP of Bauxite and Alumina in Hydro
Read more in Hydro’s press release: SEMAS lifts Alunorte’s production embargo
The refinery is investing in expanding rainwater storage capacity and in the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant with construction of new basins, new pumping systems and water pipes, new instruments for automation and control, new cameras for monitoring the basins and a new water treatment facility. Alunorte has also acquired new vehicles, such as ambulance, fire truck and pickups with gyro flex and speakers. The Refinery’s Emergency Response Plan was also reviewed and has included the creation of the Community Environmental Emergency Brigade, with participation of representatives of local communities.
See the video about the improvements implemented in Alunorte through December 2018:
Alunorte finalizes the delivery of food cards to residents of the area of the Murucupi river basin in Barcarena. The delivery of the benefit is accorded in the Term of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC) signed between the company, Hydro, the State and Federal Public Ministry and the Government of the State of Pará. The distribution was completed one day before the initial forecast.
The Legislative Assembly of the state of Pará concluded its investigation into Alunorte and the February 2018 rainfall event and published its report on the issue.
Computer simulations carried out by professors from the Federal University of Campina Grande show that there was no overflow from Alunorte’s residue deposit areas in February 2018. The independent study also concludes that Alunorte, from a water management perspective, can produce safely at 100% capacity.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: ‘Brazilian expert study shows no overflow from Alunorte’s residue deposit areas during the rainfall in February 2018’
"It is reassuring that we now have a third-party study that states that Alunorte can safely produce at full capacity and that our ongoing improvement projects will make us well-prepared for even heavier rainfalls than what we experienced in February. Together with the reports and confirmations from the Brazilian authorities that we did not have any overflow from the residue deposits, this study is an important confirmation that Alunorte is able to produce safely.”
— John Thuestad, Head of the Bauxite & Alumina business area in Hydro.
Read more on Hydro press release: “Capital Markets Day 2018: Navigating challenging times, maintaining long-term focus”
All presentations from Hydro’s Capital Markets Day can be found here.
About a thousand of Hydro employees take to the street in front of the Federal Court in Belém in a peaceful demonstration in favor of Alunorte and Albras to support the process to resume normal operations, securing value and jobs, and Hydro’s contribution to sustainable growth in Pará.
The federal environmental agency IBAMA lifted the embargo on DRS 2 after reviewing the information requested from Alunorte and SEMAS, the local environmental agency in the state of Para. The decision to lift the embargo follows an exceptional authorization granted by IBAMA to Alunorte on October 5 to utilize its state-of-the art press filter technology in processing of bauxite residues. Using DRS2 in combination with press filter technology represents the only long-term sustainable solution for Alunorte.
The suspension of the embargo by IBAMA does not allow for an immediate resumption of the DRS 2 testing and commissioning phase, as the embargo from the federal court remains in place.
Read more on Hydro press release, IBAMA lifts embargo on new Alunorte bauxite residue deposit area
"The new bauxite residue deposit, together with the press filter, is the world's most modern bauxite residue treatment technology. We will continue the dialogue with the authorities to seek the permission to utilize the new deposit area, as this is fundamental for the sustainability and continuity of the refinery's operations."
— Hydro`s EVP of Bauxite & Alumina, John Thuestad, Hydro press release, October 26
In connection with its third quarter results, Hydro announces that the water retainment basins capacity at Alunorte will be increased by 350 percent by end 2018.
Read more on Hydro press release: Third quarter 2018: Results up on realized prices, higher costs
SEMAS – the Secretary of State for Environment and Sustainability (the environmental agency in the state of Pará) supports the October 5 decision by IBAMA, Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (a federal environmental agency under the Ministry of Environment).
Alunorte resumes 50 percent production. It is still uncertain when the embargo on production and DRS2 will be lifted
Read more on Hydro press release, ‘Alunorte to resume production at half capacity’
Thousands of Hydro employees take to the streets in Barcarena in a peaceful demonstration in favor of Alunorte and to support the process to resume normal operations, securing value and jobs, and Hydro’s continued contribution to sustainable growth in Pará.
Alunorte receives exceptional authorization from IBAMA to use the modern press filters to process bauxite residue for DRS1.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: “Alunorte receives authorization to utilize press filter as first step to resume operations.“
On September 29, Alunorte receives a report from its long-term consultant firm, saying that the bauxite residue deposit DRS1 is safe to use and will be so for many months forward.
On October 3, Alunorte receives new advice from the engineering and design consultant firm that the current part of DRS1 under operation is no longer safe to use with drum filter technology.
The more secure, efficient and environmentally-friendly residue deposit DRS2, nor its press filters, cannot be used, as it was embargoed in March while in commissioning phase. Alunorte management makes the decision to shut down production.
Read more on Hydro press release, ‘Alunorte announces full curtailment of its operations’
Alunorte signs two agreements, with the Government of Pará and Ministério Público, representing a milestone to resume normal operations at the alumina refinery. There is still no timeline to resume production.
- The TAC regulates certain technical studies and improvements, audits, fines and payments for food cards to families living in the hydrographic area of the Murucupi River.
- The TC addresses additional efforts and investments related to the social development of communities in Barcarena.
- The combined investments, costs and fines are estimated at BRL 319 million (around NOK 640 million), of which about NOK 65 million relates to fines.
Read more on Hydro press release, ‘Alunorte signs agreements with Government of Pará and Ministério Público’
The final report of the Committee for Management and Evaluation of Response to Environmental Contamination in Barcarena, coordinated by Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Republic is published. The report states that there was no leakage or overflow from Alunort’s bauxite residue deposit areas as a result of the heavy rainfall in February.
The report says that Alunorte reveals a good practice in compliance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and human rights including medical care provided by the company, recognition of technical failures, opening of a channel of communication specific for this with access for complaints and receiving information, as well as the completion of internal audit.
Main recommendations to Alunorte relate to measures to prevent human rights breaches, secure mechanisms for effective participation, transparency and grievance, maintain emergency supply of drinking water to neighboring communities in cooperation with the authorities, share the results of the hypothetical dam break of DRS1 and DRS2 with the relevant authority and prepare corresponding emergency plans, and initiate an external health risk assessment.
The Paragominas bauxite mine temporarily suspends the employment contracts of 80 employees for up to five months in an aim of maintaining the jobs long term. The measure was approved at a meeting of the Worker’s Trade Union of the Extractive Industries in Amapá and Pará (STIEAPA).
A temporary suspension of an employment contract is provided for in Brazilian labor legislation, and respects the collective agreement established with the company’s employees. Paragominas will offer a skills development program for these employees during the suspension period.
In addition, we have had to reduce the number of contractors by 175 at Paragominas.
Read more on Hydro press release: ‘Paragominas temporarily suspends work contracts for 80 employees, terminates 175 contractors’
Hydro’s Alunorte employees demonstrate against the embargo.
Albras, which normally receives all its alumina from Alunorte, cuts production by 50 percent.
Read more on Hydro press release: Albras initiates 50 percent curtailment of aluminium production
SGW Services and internal Hydro reviews present their findings. The studies include operation of the bauxite solid residue deposits, the water and effluent treatment systems and the potential impact on the external environment, in addition to a full review of all the Alunorte licenses.
The main conclusions of the task force and SGW Services were:
- There was no overflow from the bauxite solid residue deposits areas of Alunorte.
- There is no evidence that Alunorte contaminated the local communities of Barcarena following the heavy rains.
Based on the recommendations, Alunorte initiates actions in the short, medium and long term. These initiatives include:
- Short-term improvements of management systems for the water treatment plant, maintenance of systems and emergency plans and training.
- Investment of NOK 500 million (around R$200 million) in the refinery water treatment system, increasing treatment capacity by 50 percent and water storage capacity by 150 percent.
- An update of emergency procedures, including a review of the communication practices with the local communities during and after the emergencies. This will also include the training of the neighboring communities of Alunorte.
- Toxicological studies to assess the health conditions of the people in the Alunorte neighboring communities.
- Maintenance and upgrade of equipment, including opportunities for improvement identified in the reports from the reviews.
- Reinforcing the collection, testing, monitoring and analysis of the environmental and health data, including water quality.
- Deployment of an independent legal entity called Sustainable Barcarena Initiative, which will have its own organization, staff and autonomy, funded by Alunorte.
- The initiative will also provide training, establish a public platform for monitoring and evaluation of data, in order to develop social and environmental projects.
- In addition, Alunorte has committed to maintain the access to clean water in the communities of Burajuba, Bom Futuro and Vila Nova.
Read more on Hydro press release: ‘Reviews confirm no indications of contamination from Alunorte on local communities after rainfall’
To support broad collaboration for social change in Barcarena, Alunorte has committed BRL 100 million (NOK 250 million) in local community investments through the new Sustainable Barcarena Initiative.
The Sustainable Barcarena Initiative is set up as a separate legal entity, with its own organization, financed by but independent to Alunorte.
"Our aim is to bring all stakeholders together – academia, business, authorities and employees – to share concerns, discuss and priorities the key needs of the Barcarena area. We believe this has the potential to reduce the conflict level in the area and strengthen the ability of local communities to drive social change and development.”— Anne Lene Midseim, Executive Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility in Hydro, Hydro Capital Markets Day, 29 November
Alunorte arranges an open community meeting in Barcarena forneighboring communities as well as local associations and workers unions.
Read more on Hydro press release: ‘Hydro stepping up its efforts to be a trustworthy partner in Barcarena‘.
Recent events in Barcarena make it clear that the society around us does not find us a trustworthy partner. What we heard from our neighbors is that we were not close enough, and that they could not rely on the information we provided. This is not who we aspire to be, and we are deeply sorry. Hydro cannot succeed if neighbors and other stakeholders feel that the company is failing them, and we cannot solve these issues alone.”
— Elise Must, Hydro Head of Corporate Social Responsibility
Several new initiatives that have been implemented, or will be implemented in the coming weeks in the Vila Nova, Burajuba and Bom Futuro communities are communicated:
- Weekly community meetings since February 26, community representatives plant visit on March 22
- Provision of drinking water since February 26, and water reservoirs since March 2, in collaboration with the Civil Defence
- Commitment to work with local partners such as the water utility company, Águas de São Francisco, to find a permanent solution for water provision. Three meetings have been conducted so far
- Health services in collaboration with the Municipality from March 2 to March 13, and again from March 19. This includes door to door mapping of local health conditions, diagnosis and treatment, as well as water and soil sampling, by the national Red Cross, which was hired by Hydro to do this.
- Local NGO hired as a third-party observer to follow all meetings and initiatives
- Local NGO to survey agricultural soil quality, starting April 9
- Hydro to establish new waste sorting facility as part of the new Municipality landfill in Bom Futuro. This project was initiated in 2016, technical engineering is finalized, and March 19 there was a kick off meeting with partners implementing an interlinked environmental awareness program in Barcarena
During another inspection of Alunorte, the environmental agency in the state of Pará (SEMAS – the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainability) discovered that there was an unlicensed connection between the coal storage shed of the Alunorte refinery and a licensed drainage canal from the adjacent Albras primary aluminium plant. This meant that rainwater that fell on the coal storage shed area at Alunorte was not lead to the water treatment plant but flowed through this internal canal into the Pará river. Following the inspection, Hydro discovered an additional inflow of water to the canal from the former hydrate storage area. Both inflows of water to this internal canal have been closed.
Hydro CEO and President Svein Richard Brandtzæg apologized in a press release, Hydro expands review and launches audit, following more untreated rainwater discharges from Alunorte
After this incident, Hydro expanded the scope of work of the independent environmental consultancy SGW Services. Hydro also launched an internal audit on licensing practices.
The review by SGW Services later showed that the discharge through Canal Velho and the leaks of rainwater from the refinery area were not harmful to the local communities and brought no impact to the Pará River.
Read more on Hydro press release: ‘Hydro expands review and launches audit, following more untreated rainwater discharges from Alunorte’
Hydro announces upgrade of water treatment system at Alunorte for NOK 500 million. This increases the water treatment capacity by 50 percent and the water retainment basins capacity by 150 percent and improves the robustness of the plant to withstand future extreme weather conditions.
On 24 October 2018, Hydro announces further strengthening of Alunorte’s water treatment capacity. The water retainment basins capacity at Alunorte will be increased by 350 percent by end 2018.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: “Hydro to upgrade water treatment system at Alunorte”.
"The local communities have not received the information they deserve, and they have not found us trustworthy. For that, I apologize. We accept that to build trust, we will have to make changes in our own attitudes, in our actions, and in our ways of working with the local communities.”
— Hydro CEO and President Svein Richard Brandtzæg
Hydro takes measures to preserve jobs at Paragominas and Alunorte, and 1,000 employees are on collective vacations from end of March/early April. 600 employees working at Alunorte will be on 10-days collective vacation, while 400 employees at Paragominas will be on 15-day collective vacations.
Hydro does not consider layoffs at the moment. “The company is using all possible legal and labor instruments to preserve all jobs,” says Douglas Ruozzi, Director of Human Resources.
Read more in Hydro’s press releases: “Hydro takes measures to preserve jobs in Paragominas” and “Hydro takes measures to preserve jobs at Alunorte”.
Relevant authorities including IBAMA, the federal environmental agency, reconfirm in a congressional hearing in Brasilia the integrity of Alunorte’s bauxite residue deposits and that there has been no spill or overflow from these.
Hydro’s Alunorte employees demonstrate against the embargo.
Hydro commissions Brazilian environmental consultancy SGW Services to conduct an independent environmental review of Alunorte. SGW Services is an internationally renowned environmental consultancy and one of the leading environmental consultancies in Brazil.
SGW Services present their findings on 9 April.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: ‘Hydro commissions SGW to conduct independent environmental review of Alunorte’.
Hydro continues to collaborate with local institutions on humanitarian relief to assist communities in Barcarena within health and water. For neighboring communities Vila Nova, Burajuba and Bom Futuro, Hydro commits to working with local partners and investing in proper water supply. The water is being distributed by the Civil Defense and local contractors, and the process is observed by Peabiru Institute.
Hydro further commits to work with community, civil society and government to clarify the sources of water pollution and other water-related issues in the Barcarena region.
Red Cross is also contracted to conduct door-to-door visits for health attendance and blood sampling. The aim is to establish a baseline of the health effects and level of exposure to contaminated water, based on clinical and laboratory examinations and toxicological tests. The Red Cross’ final report is also to point to other needs and desired actions for health measures in the communities.
By end-November 2018, the results have not shown clinical symptoms of metal poisoning, but rather signs and symptoms that can be related to living conditions.
Hydro’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Eivind Kallevik is appointed interim head of Bauxite & Alumina with immediate effect, replacing Silvio Porto. Kallevik also remains in his position as CFO.
Hydro commits to review and consider further strengthening Alunorte’s water treatment system. The project is to be led by Silvio Porto, reporting to Kallevik.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: ‘Hydro takes new initiatives to resolve Alunorte situation’.
To see the situation in Barcarena for himself and to meet local management, Hydro’s President and CEO travel to Belém and Barcarena. He also visits local communities around Alunorte, including Bom Futuro, one of the communities where Hydro and the local municipality offer free health care consultations for the population and free drinking water.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Brandtzæg visits Alunorte and surrounding communities.
“Hydro is gravely concerned about the situation and for the population in this area, and we will continue to provide Hydro’s support to improving the situation, both in the short term and in the longer term.”
— Hydro CEO and president Svein Richard Brandtzæg, Hydro press release, February 24
Following the rainfall, Alunorte collaborates with local institutions to provide emergency humanitarian relief to the communities of Burajuba, Bom Futuro and Vila Nova in Barcarena.
From 2 March, health services are provided in collaboration with the Municipality of Barcarena. This includes diagnosis, treatment and door to door mapping, as well as water and soil sampling, by the national Red Cross. In addition, Alunorte provided doctors/specialists for the state-run hospital.
Alunorte continues to provide drinking water to the nearby communities affected by the flooding in cooperation with the Civil Defense.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: Hydro addresses local community needs.
Concerns increase locally that spills from Alunorte have caused pollution. Hundreds of local residents protest outside Alunorte on February 28, calling for an end to Hydro’s operations in the region.
Based on a request from public prosecutors in the state of Pará, a regional court issues a ruling, requesting the production to be reduced by 50 percent at Alunorte, over worries that the February rainfall had led to leaks from Alunorte into the nearby river, causing contamination. The court also ruled that Alunorte should halt operations at the DRS2 bauxite residue deposit, and that a new license could not be issued until the integrity of DRS2 had been fully verified.
Earlier the same day, the federal Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) issued a notification ordering Alunorte to discontinue operations of the bauxite residue deposit DRS2. IBAMA fines Hydro BRL 20 million, split between two fines of BRL 10 million each. The fines relate to conducting potentially polluting activity without a valid license at the bauxite residue deposit DRS2, and a drainage pipe at the Alunorte industrial area. The drainage pipe referred to is a disused construction pipe from the construction of the refinery, discovered during inspections following the heavy rainfall in February.
On February 24, the environmental agency in the state of Pará (SEMAS – the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainability of Pará) notified Alunorte to comply in 48 hours with the required freeboard in the containment basin for rainwater that is drained from the bauxite residue deposits.
Alunorte is to have a 1-metre distance between the top of the water containment basin and the water level as a safety precaution. When Alunorte did not meet SEMAS deadline for the required freeboard by February 26, SEMAS requested Alunorte to reduce production at the refinery by 50%. Alunorte managed to restore the required freeboard on February 27.
Hours before SEMAS issued its order, Brazilian environment minister Jose Sarney Filho urged the federal environmental agency IBAMA to implement any necessary mitigating actions to remedy the worries about a possible water contamination in the local area, including fines or a possible suspension of activities at Alunorte.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: ‘Pará authorities to order 50% production cut at Alunorte’.
We have taken considerable measures to meet the deadline at Alunorte, and we will continue with full force to make sure that we comply with expectations and requirements. We will continue our dialog with local authorities to ensure that we take all necessary steps to ensure safe and sound operations – with respect for people, the environment and for the local communities that we are a part of.”
Hydro forms an internal expert task force to ensure all the facts and circumstances related to the rainfall on February 16-17 are known.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: ‘Hydro forms expert task force to review Barcarena situation’.
The task force presented its findings on April 9
"Our commitment to safe and sound operations is universal and absolute. We intend to evaluate all aspects of our operations in Alunorte in an open and transparent manner, in close dialogue with relevant authorities."
— Hydro CEO and president Svein Richard Brandtzæg, Hydro press release February 24
The task force is to do the following:
- Establish the effects of the rainfall on the operational integrity of the bauxite residue deposits, including the ability to treat and dispose of excess water
- Analyze and evaluate internal and external data and information related to possible environmental impact in the local communities
- Propose improvement of systems, processes and/or organization supporting short and longer-term operational perspective
To help local communities affected by the flooding, Hydro cooperates with the municipal and state public agencies in the distribution of drinking water to the communities of Vila Nova, Burajuba and Bom Futuro.Hydro is also working with the same communities to find solutions for permanent access to drinking water.
Dialog meetings with community leaders are initiated and held on a weekly basis.
Read more in Hydro’s press release:‘Hydro Alunorte operations continue despite heavy rainfall, supports communities’.
On February 22, the Brazilian environmental research body IEC, the Evandro Chagas Institute, publishes a report, stating that Hydro had polluted the drinking water of local communities nearby the plant. IEC also published reports on February 24 and March 28, stating that there had been overflows of bauxite residue and heavy metals were found in the local drinking water.
The later review of Alunorte and the impact of the rainfall by the Brazilian environmental consultancy SGW Services on 9 April questions IEC’s sampling methodology and analytical methodology, and consider the results published in the IEC reports as not consistent.
The heavy metals that IEC have recorded, the results that they present and the figures in their reports are all below the relevant resolution limits. The values in the Evandro Chagas Institute’s report are also below the relevant limits of the international drinking guidelines from the World Health Organization.
Read more in Hydro’s press release: ‘No disturbances in bauxite residue deposits after heavy rainfall in Barcarena’.
External committee of the House of Representatives established to investigate a possible disruption of mining residues in Barcarena. The request was raised by Congressman Edmilson Rodrigues.
During an inspection of Alunorte, the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainability in the Brazilian state of Pará (SEMAS) finds a disused construction pipe in a corner of the refinery area with a crack in its concrete cover, allowing rain water to seep through to the other side of the fence.
After the pipe is sealed and secured, Alunorte commissions environment consultancy Enviro-Tec to analyze the water and soil outside the refinery area. Enviro-Tec concludes that the rain waterthat had leaked through the construction pipe had not caused any negative impact to the soil.
See video about the disused construction pipe:
More than 200 mm of rainfall is recorded in Barcarena in a 12-hour period, of which 150 millimeters comes in just two to three hours.
As an emergency measure during the heavy rainfall, Alunorte discharges partly untreated rainwater into the Pará river through a water canal called Canal Velho on February 17 and periodically between February 20-25.
On March 13, the Ministério Público, which has a role as public prosecutor and ombudsman, requested the inlet to this canal to be sealed with concrete. This was immediately carried out by Alunorte.
Alunorte alumina refinery
- World’s largest alumina refinery outside China
- 92,1% owned by Hydro
- Annual production capacity of 6.3 million tonnes alumina
- More than 2 000 employees
- Alumina, a white powder refined from bauxite, is a raw material required to produce aluminium
- Receives bauxite from the Paragominas mine (owned 100% by Hydro) and provides alumina worldwide, including to the nearby Albras primary aluminium plant (owned 51% by Hydro).
Days before the flooding, residents and media in Barcarena raise concerns about Alunorte’s bauxite residue deposits, including rumors in social media that there had been ruptures in the deposits.
At the time of the heavy rainfall days later, many parts of the flood waters looked red as it took on the color of the local iron-rich soil. As the bauxite residue are also red in color, some people thought that the floodwater was contaminated with bauxite residue. This may have fueled local rumors about whether the flooding had affected the bauxite residue deposits.
See more about the operations of Alunorte’s bauxite solid residue deposit in the videos below: