October 10, 2018 / 10:28 AM / a year ago

Hydro CEO says focus on full output at Alunorte, no layoffs

OSLO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Norway’s Norsk Hydro is focused on a return to full output at its Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil and is not contemplating layoffs there, CEO Svein Richard Brandtzaeg told Reuters on Wednesday.

Hydro had said last week it would close down the world’s largest alumina refinery and lay off 4,700 workers as attempts to resolve an environmental dispute with Brazilian authorities faltered.

On Tuesday it announced it has been granted permits from the authorities to restart operations at half capacity.

“The way we are operating now requires more staffing. As long as we have a positive dialogue with the authorities we will keep the staffing. We believe the embargo will be lifted and then we need all our people,” Brandtzaeg told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“It’s difficult to give exact timeline for a full restart but we are now in the process of implementing measures we agreed on with authorities in September,” he said.

The plant has an annual capacity of 6.4 million tonnes of alumina, or 10 percent of capacity outside China.

Alunorte transforms bauxite into alumina, which is turned into aluminium at huge smelters.

Hydro was ordered by Brazilian regulators in February to slash output by half at the refinery after the company admitted making unlicensed emissions of untreated water during severe rains. (Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord; editing by Jason Neely)

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