April 5, 2019 / 6:49 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Norsk Hydro has April 12 court hearing on partly shut Brazil plant

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OSLO, April 5 (Reuters) - A Brazilian federal court has scheduled an April 12 hearing on the year-long production embargo at Norsk Hydro’s Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil, the Norwegian company said on Friday.

The plant has operated at half of its capacity since February 2018 after a spill that led regulators and courts to restrict its output.

There is no timeline yet for when a decision will be made on whether to lift the embargo, Hydro said in a statement.

The largest of its kind outside China, Alunorte transforms bauxite from mines in Brazil into alumina, the key material used for making aluminium at smelters owned by Hydro and others around the world.

Since the unlicensed emission of untreated water during severe rains in February last year, Hydro has upgraded Alunorte’s facilities to help convince authorities it was safe to resume full output.

On March 26, Hydro agreed with Brazil’s federal prosecutor to have a third-party technical assessment of two reports backing Hydro’s position that the plant’s problems had been fixed.

“We are demonstrating that Alunorte is safe to the environment and the population in Barcarena,” Executive Vice President John Thuestad, head of Hydro’s Bauxite & Alumina business, said in a statement. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik Editing by David Goodman and David Holmes)

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