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Norsk Hydro nets key environmental approval to restart Alunorte

SEMAS, the environmental regulator in the Brazilian state of Pará, affirmed that Norsk Hydro ASA can resume normal operations at its Alunorte alumina refinery, though output will remain suspended as a federal court ban on production remains in place.

Alumina or aluminum oxide is made from bauxite and is further processed to make aluminum metal.

Norsk Hydro said Jan. 16 that it will inform the court about the environmental regulator's decision. John Thuestad, executive vice president for bauxite and alumina, said the company will continue talks with authorities to fully restart output.

A study from the Federal University of Campina Grande in Brazil concluded that Alunorte can safely produce at full capacity from a water management angle, the company added.

The company secured approval from Brazilian federal environmental agency IBAMA in October 2018 to use a press filter for processing bauxite residues, which will extend the life of its bauxite residue deposit area one and enable Alunorte to restart at 50% capacity.