Reviews confirm no indications of contamination from Alunorte on local communities after rainfall

Norsk Hydro is presenting on Monday 9 April the main findings from the internal task force and the third-party review from Brazilian environmental consultancy, SGW Services.

April 9, 2018

“Both reports confirm our previous statements that there was no overflow from the bauxite residue deposit areas, as well as no indication or evidence of contamination to nearby local communities from Alunorte as a result of the heavy rainfall in February,” says President and CEO, Svein Richard Brandtzæg.

“We have initiated several measures to further enhance Alunorte’s operational standards, including water treatment capacity, emergency preparedness plans and maintenance. We will also strengthen community engagement to ensure that we contribute to sustainable development in Barcarena in line with Hydro’s CSR Strategy,” he says.

Following the unusually heavy rainfall in February, an internal task force and Brazilian environmental consultancy SGW Services have performed reviews of Alunorte. The reviews include the operation of the bauxite residue deposits, water and effluent systems, and potential impact on the external environment.

Main findings from the internal task force and SGW Services are the following:

  • No overflows from Alunorte’s bauxite residue deposit areas
  • No indication or evidence that Alunorte has contaminated local communities of Barcarena
  • No indication or evidence of any significant or lasting environmental impact to nearby rivers
  • Improvement proposals in the following areas:
    • Water management and treatment capacity
    • Preventive maintenance and upgrades
    • Emergency preparedness plans and training

Alunorte has already implemented or initiated a comprehensive list of short, medium and long-term actions, including the following measures:

  • Short-term improvements of the water management systems and treatment capacity, maintenance systems, as well as emergency preparedness plans and training
  • Investment of NOK 500 million (approx. BRL 200 million) in the refinery water treatment system, increasing treatment capacity by 50 percent and basin capacity in water treatment plant by 150 percent
  • Project to review and consider further strengthening of Alunorte’s water treatment system as a proactive response to possible future climate and weather changes
  • Development of sustainable closure concept for DRS 1
  • Update of emergency procedures, including review of the communication practices for local communities during and following emergencies. This will also include training for the communities nearby Alunorte
  • Third-party environmental study on quality of air, water, springs, soil and forest
  • Strengthening of local and central environmental resources and competence
  • Toxicological study to evaluate health conditions of people in the communities nearby Alunorte

Further, Hydro will implement additional measures to position Alunorte as the benchmark alumina refinery in the global aluminium industry:

Technical and environmental measures

  • Maintenance and equipment upgrade, including measures to address improvement potential identified in the reports
  • Increase number of water sampling wells at and around Alunorte’s premises for improved monitoring of the environment
  • Further strengthening of collection, testing, analysis and monitoring of environmental and health data, including water quality

Social measures

Hydro is in dialogue with relevant stakeholders, including the Government of Pará, to strengthen community engagement, contributing to sustainable growth in Barcarena.

In parallel, to support broad collaboration for social change in Barcarena, Alunorte will commit around NOK 250 million (BRL 100 million) in local community investments through a new initiative, the Sustainable Barcarena Initiative:
  • Separate legal entity, with its own organization, staff and mandate, financed by but independent to Alunorte
  • The initiative will provide capacity building, establish a public platform for data monitoring and evaluation, develop social and environmental projects
  • Alunorte will act in partnership with communities, academia, authorities, unions and relevant organizations

In addition to the Sustainable Barcarena Initiative, Alunorte has committed to maintain access to clean water in Burajuba, Bom Futuro, and Vila Nova. In the short-term, the company is providing medical assistance and water distribution to 1,800 families in local communities. Alunorte is also engaging with the communities to develop and implement short-term social projects.

“Our clear ambition is to make Alunorte the benchmark in our industry, ensuring sustainable operations and social change in the communities around us,” Brandtzæg says.

Alunorte is the world’s largest alumina refinery, with around 2,000 direct employees and an annual nameplate capacity of 6.3 million tonnes. Hydro owns 92.1 percent of Alunorte.

Hydro will host a combined analyst and press conference, in English, at its corporate headquarters at Drammensveien 260, Oslo, Monday at 14:00 CEST, as well as a conference call at 17:00 CEST. Please find more details on www.hydro.com.

Cautionary note

Certain statements included in this announcement contain forward-looking information, including, without limitation, information relating to (a) forecasts, projections and estimates, (b) statements of Hydro management concerning plans, objectives and strategies, such as planned expansions, investments, divestments, curtailments or other projects, (c) targeted production volumes and costs, capacities or rates, start-up costs, cost reductions and profit objectives, (d) various expectations about future developments in Hydro's markets, particularly prices, supply and demand and competition, (e) results of operations, (f) margins, (g) growth rates, (h) risk management, and (i) qualified statements such as "expected", "scheduled", "targeted", "planned", "proposed", "intended" or similar.

Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, these forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions and forecasts that, by their nature, involve risk and uncertainty. Various factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected in a forward-looking statement or affect the extent to which a particular projection is realized. Factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to: our continued ability to reposition and restructure our upstream and downstream businesses; changes in availability and cost of energy and raw materials; global supply and demand for aluminium and aluminium products; world economic growth, including rates of inflation and industrial production; changes in the relative value of currencies and the value of commodity contracts; trends in Hydro's key markets and competition; and legislative, regulatory and political factors.

No assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to have been correct. Hydro disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Barcarena fact sheet


Updated: April 9, 2018