An electrical fire late last week at Norsk Hydro’s Albras Alumínio Brasileiro S.A.’s (Albras) in Brazil has shut down one of the plant’s four production lines, and the firm has yet to reveal a timetable for the resumption of smelting on the line.
Hydro says the fire started for as-yet-undetermined reasons on Friday morning local time, resulting in the loss in power to the line, immediately curtailing 25 percent of the plant’s output. The firm said the investigation is too early in the process to assign a cause to the blaze or define a timetable for a return to production. However, Hydro confirmed that no workers were injured in the conflagration.
Albras said it would cooperate with local authorities as they investigate the fire.
According to sources who spoke to industry media, the aluminium smelter was operating at 95 percent capacity at the time of the fire, with plans to ramp up to full capacity later this year. Although an immediate impact upon prices for aluminium is expected, experts say Brazilian aluminium buyers may see higher prices and lower availability due to Brazil’s only other aluminium smelter is running at a lower capacity at present as well.
The 460 thousand metric tons per annum aluminium smelter is located adjacent to the gargantuan alumina refining plant Alunorte in Brazil’s northern state of Pará. Hydro owns a 51-percent stake in the plant, with Nippon Amazon Aluminium Co. Ltd. holding the remaining interest.
Norsk Hydro, which was founded in 1905, financed by the Swedish Wallenberg family and French banks, began its life named Norsk hydro-elektrisk Kvælstofaktieselskab (literally, “Norwegian hydro-electric nitrogen limited”) by Sam Eyde. The Norwegian government owns approximately 40% of the company at the present time. Norsk Hydro is one of the largest aluminium companies in the world, with plants in Rjukan, Raufoss, Vennesla, Karmøy, Høyanger, Årdal, Sunndalsøra, and Holmestrand. Norsk also has several plants abroad, including in Germany and Brazil.