Hydro CEO Eivind Reiten was greeted by Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the official opening of the third expansion of Alunorte on Thursday, highlighting the position of this cornerstone facility as the world’s leading alumina refinery.
Hydro holds a strategically important 34-percent stake in Alunorte, while the company’s long-standing partner, Vale, has majority ownership.
With the third expansion complete and in full production, Alnorte will have a capacity of about 6.3 million tonnes per year of alumina, up from 4.4 million tonnes.
“I am proud to see Alunorte 3 starting up ahead of time and on budget,” Hydro President and CEO Eivind Reiten said. “This further strengthens our strategically important equity alumina holding and Hydro’s solid position across the aluminium value chain.”
Equally important for Hydro and partner Vale, corporate social responsibility is on top of the agenda at Alunorte, which has received a long list of awards for its work within health and safety, the environment and local society.
Hydro has a long history in Brazil, stretching back to 1974, and the company has been a partner in Alunorte since 2000.
The third expansion, which represents a total investment of around $290 million for Hydro, will increase Hydro’s share of alumina from around 1.4 million tonnes per year to around 2.2 million tonnes.
Alumina is the key raw material in the production of primary aluminium, which makes it vital for Hydro to hold a solid equity position in this key input factor.
Once Alunorte 3 is in full operation, Hydro will have around 80 percent of its total alumina needs covered through equity holdings.
When Qatalum comes on stream around year-end 2009, this equity rate will decline a few percent.
Alunorte is located near Belem, the state capital of Pará in northeastern Brazil, and has around 3,000 employees and contractors.