OSLO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Norwegian aluminium-maker Hydro is preparing to cut output from Brazil’s Alunorte alumina refinery by 50 percent from March 1, as ordered by an environmental regulator, the company said on Wednesday.
The Secretariat of Environment and Sustainability (SEMAS) in Brazil’s northern state of Para has warned it will fine Hydro 500,000 reais ($153,789) per day if Alunorte fails to meet the deadline, the company said.
Hydro had previously been warned it would have to cut production in order to safeguard the local environment, but had not set a date for the shutdown.
Alunorte is the world’s largest alumina refinery, transforming bauxite to alumina, which is turned into aluminium at huge smelters.
The regulator’s ruling followed recent claims by Brazilian federal and state prosecutors of a waste spill at one of Alunorte’s bauxite refuse deposits after heavy rain. Hydro has said it found no evidence of such pollution.
Brazil’s national environment watchdog Ibama on Tuesday said it would carry out an inspection to assess if the damages match what has been reported by federal and state prosecutors.
A Hydro spokesman said water levels at the refuse deposit had been reduced in line with requirements, but added it was unclear what the company needed to do to be able to resume full production at Alunorte.
“We continue our dialogue with authorities,” Hydro spokesman Halvor Molland said.
$1 = 3.2512 reais Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, writing by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche