Based on a request from public prosecutors in the state of Pará, Brazil, a regional court issued a ruling on Wednesday, February 28, demanding Hydro to cut production by 50 percent at its Alunorte alumina refinery, over worries that a rainstorm had led to leakages from Alunorte into the nearby river and causing contamination.
The court further ruled that Alunorte should halt operations at the DRS2 bauxite residue disposal, and that a new license could not be issued until the integrity of DRS2 has been fully verified.
Hydro is currently reviewing the implications of the court’s decision operationally and financially, as well as for its customers and employees of Alunorte, located in the region of Barcarena in the northern state of Para.
Earlier on Wednesday, the federal Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) also issued a notification ordering Hydro to discontinue operations of the Alunorte alumina refinery’s bauxite residue disposal DRS2.
The notification from IBAMA, a federal agency under the Brazilian environment ministry, and the court ruling came after the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainability of Pará (SEMAS) on Tuesday ordered Alunorte to cut production of calcinated alumina by 50 percent.
Just hours before SEMAS issued its order, Brazilian environment minister Jose Sarney Filho urged IBAMA to suspend Alunorte operations. SEMAS also required Hydro to stop using one of two tailing dams at its Paragominas bauxite mine, located around 250 km west of Alunorte.
Hydro continues to collaborate with all regional and federal authorities, and has established a fast-working expert task force to conduct a full review of Alunorte, reporting directly to President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg.
Hydro is South America’s biggest aluminium company after acquiring Brazilian mining company Vale’s aluminium assets in the northern state of Pará in 2011. Alunorte is the world’s largest alumina refinery, employs around 2,000 people and has a nameplate capacity of an annual 6.3 million tonnes. Hydro owns 92.1 percent of Alunorte.
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Barcarena fact sheet