Wide-reaching engagement behind new Brazilian alumina refinery

The decision to take an ownership stake in Companhia de Alumina do Pará (CAP) was made possible thanks to some solid and effective efforts – in the fields of health, environment, safety and corporate social responsibility, as well as in the financial, technological and legal areas,” emphasizes Ellen Cathrine Rasmussen, who heads up Hydro’s bauxite and alumina operation.

November 4, 2008

The new project – in Barcarena, northern Brazil – will be built only a few kilometers from the Alunorte alumina refinery, in which Hydro is part-owner, and will boost the region’s significance for the global supply of alumina.

“We are confident that this will be a solid and important project,” says Rasmussen.

On stream in 2011

Along with the Brazilian mining company Vale, Hydro is going to build the new alumina refinery CAP, which has a price tag of USD 2.2 billion. Hydro holds a 20-percent share. The refinery will be ready to come on stream in 2011. The bauxite for the refinery will be transported in the form of slurry through a 244 km long pipeline from Vale’s mining operation in Paragominas, in Para state.

It is normally quite time-consuming to develop new bauxite and alumina projects. In this case, Hydro came in as a minority owner in a project that had already made quite some progress in its preparations.

Nevertheless, Rasmussen states she is now confident that Hydro, some 15 months after a letter of intent was signed, has a good overview of all the main aspects of the project – from the technological to the environmental and the social. She also points to the obvious advantage in Hydro being well acquainted with its partner Vale following their cooperation in Alunorte, which goes back over many years.

In accordance with principles

“Participation in an already far advanced greenfield project does present us with a series of challenges that we have had to deal with swiftly, without letting this affect the quality of the work.  Above all we have had to ensure that all processes evolve in accordance with our principles. To help us do this, we have carried out studies that take in all the main aspects of the project,” explains Rasmussen.

In addition to the socio-economic impact assessment, which forms part of the process of obtaining the building permit, Hydro has had conducted an independent review of the process relating to the acquisition of a plot, including the relocation of the inhabitants affected. The Para region is considered to be one of the poorest in Brazil. The area where the new refinery will be located faces major social challenges.

Drawing upon our expertise

“We have been able to draw upon the entire range of relevant, specialist competence in Hydro. Among them has been the importance of making certain that international requirements are met when affected local inhabitants must be found a new place to live. We have no indications that the standards, concerning how people are to be treated when involved in a relocation process, have been breached,” says Rasmussen.

“As far as quality of life is concerned, most families relocated have stated that their situation is unchanged or improved. But we still intend, together with Vale, to ensure that the affected families, about 120 of them, continue to be monitored so that potential needs for improvements are assessed and implemented if possible. In general we now have a good picture of the risk scenario involved in project participation.”

She points put that it has been advantageous to have a good CSR program in place at Alunorte.

“Since Alunorte and CAP are located just a few kilometers from each other, we can build using a similar blueprint,” underlines Rasmussen.


Updated: October 11, 2016