RIO DE JANEIRO – A federal court in Brazil once again upheld a decision by a state court forcing aluminum-maker Norsk Hydro to run its Alunorte alumina refinery, the world's largest, at half capacity, state prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The decision, made on Tuesday, is part of a months-long environmental dispute with Brazilian authorities, after the metals maker admitted to making unlicensed emissions of untreated water during severe rains in February.
As a result, the company was ordered to slash output by half at the refinery, located in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Para.
The federal court also upheld a ban on the company using a second waste deposit area near the plant, state prosecutors said in a statement on Wednesday. A violation of either measure would result in a fine of one-million reais ($267 465.50) a day, prosecutors added.
"It's our understanding that this is a necessary procedural step the court must take," a Norsk Hydro spokesman said. "It ratifies a decision from a lower court, which is required before a potential further processing of the case, but we don't know whether they plan to take any further steps."
A federal judge already upheld the state court decision in February forcing Norsk Hydro to cut output.
At full capacity the plant can produce some 6.4-million tonnes of alumina, or 10% of the world's capacity outside China. Alunorte transforms bauxite into alumina, which is turned into aluminum at huge smelters.
Alunorte's output, enough to produce more than three-million tonnes of aluminum per year, is sold to metal plants around the world, including Hydro's own facilities in Norway and Brazil.