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Road to resuming normal operations

Through dialogue with all relevant authorities at the local, regional and national level in Brazil, the last embargoes on Alunorte were lifted by the Federal Court on September 26, 2019.

Water treatment facilities at Alunorte

“This is a milestone for Alunorte and will contribute to our agenda towards a more profitable and sustainable Hydro.” 

– President & CEO Hilde Merete Aasheim, press release September 26, after the final embargo was lifted

After the rainfall we strived to seek a commonly agreed solution, so we could resume normal operations, including using the new and modern deposit area and the state-of-the-art press filters.

Agreements with Government of Pará and Ministério Público

On September 5, 2018, Alunorte and Hydro signed two agreements with the Government of Pará and Ministério Público representing milestones in our efforts to resume normal operations at the alumina refinery. Alunorte had then been operating at 50% capacity since March.

“We are fully committed to the initiatives defined in the agreements with the Government of Pará and Ministério Público, which are complementing the measures under implementation at Alunorte. This will support continued safe operations at the plant.”

— John Thuestad, Executive Vice President and head of Hydro’s business area Bauxite & Alumina, Hydro press release September 5, 2018

The agreements cover technical studies and improvements as well as audits and monitoring systems to further increase the safety of Alunorte, and a plan for social investments by Hydro in Barcarena that come in addition to the Sustainable Barcarena Initiative.

  • A technical ‘Term of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC) – signed with the Ministério Público and the Government of Pará/SEMAS. The agreement regulates certain technical studies and improvements, audits, payments of fines (BRL 33 million), and payments for food cards to families living in the hydrographic area of the Murucupi river (BRL 65 million).
  • A social ‘Term of Commitment (TC)’ – signed with the Government of Pará. The agreement addresses additional efforts and investments related to the social development of communities in Barcarena and amounts to 150 million BRL.

“Our commitment to local communities have been strengthened through dialogue and an open-door policy. We are committed to contributing and making a positive difference in the society we are part of and being a partner for local development”

— John Thuestad, Executive Vice President and head of Hydro’s business area Bauxite & Alumina, Hydro press release September 5, 2018

The combined investments, costs and fines are estimated at BRL 319 million (NOK 640 million), of which about BRL 33 million (NOK 65 million) relates to fines which have been paid.

IBAMA lift embargo, court embargos remain in place

On October 25, 2018, the federal environmental agency IBAMA suspended the embargo on the new bauxite residue deposit area DRS2.

The decision to lift the embargo followed 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.

SEMAS lifts Alunorte's production embargo

In January 2019, the environmental agency in the state of Pará, SEMAS, issued a technical note attesting that Hydro Alunorte can safely resume normal operations and has on this basis lifted the production embargo.

Ministério Público and Alunorte provide Federal Court with joint petition to lift production embargos

On April 12, 2019, the Federal Court in Belem 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 State Attorney.

During the hearing, the independent engineering consultancy Rambøll also confirmed Alunorte’s ability to resume safe operations.

Federal Court lifts two production embargos on Alunorte

On May 15, 2019, the Federal Court in Belém, Brazil, lifted the production embargo on Alunorte under the civil lawsuit. The refinery was subject to a production embargo imposed by the same court in a parallel criminal lawsuit until May 20, when the federal court lifted the production embargo on the Alunorte alumina refinery, allowing the refinery to ramp up towards normal production after running at half capacity for more than a year.

After the decisions, production at Hydro’s Paragominas bauxite mine and at Hydro’s part-owned Albras primary aluminium plant will be increased in line with the ramp-up speed at Alunorte.

Federal court lifts the two remaining embargoes

On September 26, 2019, the Brazilian Federal Court lifted the final embargo on Alunorte’s new bauxite residue disposal (DRS2) under a criminal lawsuit. The decision by the federal court to lift the DRS2 embargo came after a decision on September 20 to lift the DRS2 embargo under the civil lawsuit.

Lifting the embargoes on DRS2 allowed the alumina refinery to resume activities of installation and commissioning at DRS2 and ending the 19-month embargo period which has restricted activities at the plant.

“We are happy and eager to resume installation and commissioning activities at the state-of-art bauxite residue deposit DRS2, which is the only long-term solution for sustainable and robust operations at Alunorte. This is good news for our hard-working employees, for customers and for all local stakeholders who have contributed to this positive outcome.”

– John Thuestad, EVP of the Bauxite & Alumina business area, Hydro press release September 26, 2019