Norway’s Norsk Hydro has agreed with Australia’s United Minerals Corporation (UMC) to explore the possibility of bauxite mining and alumina refining in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
“A final agreement would give Hydro a 75 percent holding in a potential bauxite and alumina project, in line with Hydro’s strategy to grow in primary aluminium production and raise its equity coverage of the key raw material alumina,” Norsk Hydro ASA said in a statement on Tuesday.
The work to determine bauxite potential in the Kimberley region will begin in July, the company said.
Hydro, a Fortune 500 energy and aluminium company, already operates the Kurri Kurri primary aluminium plant in New South Wales in Australia, with 2006 production of 164,000 tonnes and about 500 employees. It also has a minority stake in the nearby Tomago primary aluminium plant.
United Mining Corporation is a listed Australian mining company with substantial bauxite leases in the Kimberley region, and with activities mainly in diamonds, iron ore and bauxite. It holds a number of granted and pending exploration licences in the region, Hydro said.
In 2006, Norsk Hydro supplied close to 3.6 million tonnes of primary aluminium metal, of which 1.8 million tonnes came from 11 fully and part-owned primary aluminium plants in Europe, Canada and Australia.
Hydro is selling its oil and gas business to Norway’s Statoil , and the deal is expected to be completed in the third quarter. After that, Hydro will become a focused aluminium company with significant associated hydropower production.
Information from: Reuters