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Norsk Hydro says Qatar aluminium project on track

Doha, November 10, 2008

Norsk Hydro's $5.6 billion aluminium smelter in Qatar is on track to start production in late 2009 or early 2010 and all the company's other big projects are also on schedule, its chief executive said.

'We are looking at the turn of 2009 or early 2010, so far touch wood it's still good news for us,' Eivind Reiten said on Monday on the sidelines of an aluminium conference in Dubai.

'All our large projects are not going to be delayed or cancelled, they are all going ahead as planned and will meet with the targeted time schedule,' he told Reuters.

Reiten said that the Norwegian aluminium producer would be cautious about taking on any new projects, especially if the global economic slowdown continued.

'We will be taking a look at investments in the downstream but we will be taking a careful approach to any new investments,' Reiten said.

He added that the company was on course to complete a new 1,250 megawatt gas-fired power plant that would support the aluminium smelter in Qatar. 'The project is going to be onstream at the end of 2009 or early 2010, it is on schedule.'    

Earlier on Monday, Rio Tinto Alcan said it would review a $10.6 billion aluminium joint venture with Saudi firm Maaden, and sources close to the project said it could be delayed by 1-2 years.

Norsk Hydro's underlying earnings before interest and tax fell to 1.49 billion crowns ($269.7 million) in the three months to the end of September from 2.69 billion in the same quarter last year, the company reported in late October.

Company presentation material at the time showed that around 80 percent of the primary aluminium production that would affect fourth-quarter results was priced at $2,770 per tonne.

London Metal Exchange three months aluminium futures at 1200 GMT on Monday were well below that level, at $2,030.

Metals producers around the world have been hit by lower prices as the financial crisis has raised the prospect of a global economic recession and much speculative money, including that from hedge funds, has been withdrawn from commodities markets. - Reuters




Tags: Norsk Hydro | aluminium smelter |

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