The Brazilian Federal Court has lifted the final embargo on Alunorte's new bauxite residue disposal (DRS2) under a criminal lawsuit, Norway's Norsk Hydro said on Thursday.
This allows the alumina refinery to resume activities of installation and commissioning at DRS2, ending a 19-month embargo period that has restricted activities at the plant.
The plant has operated at half of its capacity since February 2018 after a spill that led regulators and courts to restrict its output.
The decision by the federal court to lift the DRS2 embargo under the criminal lawsuit came after a decision last Friday, to lift the DRS2 embargo under the civil lawsuit.
The embargoes have prevented Alunorte from following the originally planned transition from the old bauxite residue deposit area (DRS1) to the newest deposit area, in combination with the press filter technology.
The Norwegian company says the press filter is the most modern and sustainable technology for depositing bauxite residue.
The construction of DRS2 started in 2014. The press filters generate a residue with 78% solid content, which allows stacking by compaction, increasing the safety of DRS2 and significantly reducing the area needed for disposal.
Internal and external reviews, including inspections by authorities, confirmed that there was no overflow of Alunorte's bauxite residue deposits from the February 2018 rainfall.
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. Alunorte exports its products to ten countries in the Middle East, North America and Europe.