Following several months’ trial drilling, Hydro signed a joint-venture agreement with UMC of Australia in November last year.
Under this agreement Hydro intends to recover bauxite and produce alumina in Kimberley, Western Australia, thereby boosting the company’s equity in alumina, which is the most important raw material in the production of aluminium.
Met politicians and partners
Hydro's President and CEO Eivind Reiten recently visited Perth, where the project offices will be located. Reiten and Agerup met UMC’s management and Australian officials and state partners in order to demonstrate Hydro’s commitment to the project.
“Our plan is to become familiar with the project and our partner. It is also highly important for Hydro to demonstrate its presence in Western Australia, as this will help widen our project opportunities in this area,” explains Agerup.
She believes that the project may have great potential in the long term.
“In the short term, the project is primarily about clarifying the bauxite reserves so that we have a decision-making basis for a possible investment. But the project also has a more long-term perspective. This is an attractive area, with abundant bauxite reserves in licenses that Hydro can maybe gain access to, if we demonstrate our presence as a dedicated company wishing to engage in bauxite and alumina,” she adds.
Time-consuming and technologically demanding
Head of bauxite and alumina in Hydro's Aluminium Metal business area, Ellen Cathrine Rasmussen, points out that the project now starting up in Australia is both time consuming and technologically demanding.
“It is demanding to get such projects off the ground; the most important criterion is to secure sufficient bauxite reserves of an acceptable quality. Then there is the need to establish an infrastructure, and to obtain access to energy at competitive prices – these are also vital criteria,” she says.
Hydro will have to work very hard to succeed in this project, which she emphasizes is a long-term undertaking.