March 26, 2019 / 7:59 PM / 7 months ago

Norsk Hydro, Brazil prosecutor agree steps that could lead to Alunorte's full restart

OSLO, March 26 (Reuters) - Norsk Hydro has agreed with Brazil's federal prosecutor to have a third-party technical assessment that, if positive, could lead to it resuming full production at the half-shut Alunorte alumina refinery, the company said on Tuesday.

The refinery, the world's biggest, has been operating at half capacity since early 2018, when Hydro admitted it had made unlicensed emissions of untreated water.

Since then the company has received two clearances that it can safely resume full operations, which the third party will assess from a technical viewpoint.

Under the agreement, if the external assessment supports the two safety conclusions, the prosecutor's office will inform the federal court of Belen that it will not oppose lifting an embargo that prevents Alunorte from operating at full capacity.

"The agreement schedules a timeline for the assessment to be concluded in April. It does not include a timeline for the decision to be made by the court," Norsk Hydro said in a statement.

The Federal Court in Belem, which will rule on the production embargo, has scheduled a hearing on April 4 between Alunorte and the prosecutor regarding the embargoes on production and the use of a new bauxite deposit area.

The court has appointed two technical experts to assist the court in its evaluation of issues related to the Alunorte situation. The technical experts were given 60 days to conduct their evaluation, the company said.

Alunorte is the world's largest alumina refinery, with output large enough to sustain annual aluminium production of more than 3 million tonnes.

Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; editing by David Evans

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