Norwegian aluminum firm Hydro may be able to resume production at its huge but deeply troubled plant in Brazil, reports Oslo newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), after authorities granted permission to use some new technology. Hydro still needs additional authorizations, however, before its Alunorte plant can start up again at 50 percent.
Hydro announced last week that it was shutting down the rest of Alunorte, the world’s largest alumina refinery, because its old but important containment basin for bauxite residue deposits (red mud) was full. Hydro had been denied permission to use a new and more modern basin and a new drying technology called pressfilter.
Its decision to shut down the entire plant, at the cost of jobs and market disruption, prompted several meetings with Brazilian authorities that finally may resolve the standoff between Hydro and especially environmental regulators. Hydro insists that the decision to close was necessary and not just a threat to prod the authorities into action, six months after the plant first was hit by torrential rains that caused flooding and spillage that polluted local water supplies. Aluminum prices shot up, because of concerns over lack of supply, and Hydro’s shares crashed on the closure news but have since been recovering.