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Norsk Hydro to Increase Automotive Aluminum Capacity at Husnes Plant

Norwegian aluminum maker Norsk Hydro has recently been in the news for a cyber attack that brought much of its operations to a halt.

More recently, however, the company turned to more positive news, announcing plans to upgrade technology at its Husnes plant to produce more aluminum for the automotive market.

Aluminum use in automobiles has increased in recent years as automakers try to churn out lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Of course, the steel industry hasn’t allowed aluminum to rise uncontested, as new, lighter forms of steel are developed. In fact, Crain’s Cleveland Business reported last year that AK Steel plans to roll out a new advanced, high-strength steel to automakers by 2021.

The ongoing steel-versus-aluminum war aside, Hydro said it will invest NOK 150 million (U.S. $17.6 million) on the new technology for the Husnes plant.

According to a company release, the plant will feature upgraded in-house casting technology dubbed “low pressure casting” (LPC) will “enable Hydro to provide materials with enhanced properties for various extrusion segments.”

“Forge stock for products like suspension arms and knuckles is an attractive market for aluminium within the automotive industry, which needs ever more aluminium to fill its need to lightweight cars and reduce emissions,” said Ola Sæter, head of Hydro’s fully-owned primary aluminum plants.

The new LPC will debut in 2020. According to Johan Berg, plant manager at Husnes, the new process affords Hydro the “flexibility to be able to cast both extrusion ingots and forging materials according to customer demand in a flexible and efficient way.”

“This investment is timed well with the ongoing upgrade of Hydro Husnes’ second electrolysis line that is due to start operations in 2020, with an annual planned output of 210,000 mt of aluminium semi-products,” Berg added. “Making use also of this new technology will significantly strengthen our position as a preferred partner delivering of aluminium to the automotive industry.”

Hydro Delays Earnings Release

In other news, the firm announced a delay in the release of its Q1 financial results, from April 30 to June 5, on account of last month’s cyber attack.

“The delayed Q1 2019 reporting date is a result of the previously communicated cyber attack, impacting the availability of certain systems and data to produce the quarterly report,” Norsk Hydro said in a prepared statement.

“The revised date is conditional upon the planned timeline for restoring operational and reporting systems.”

Most of Hydro’s operations are “back to normal or near normal levels.” The firm’s energy segment is marked as “running as normal,” as is the bauxite and alumina segment, while its primary metal segment is running as normal “with higher degree of manual operation.”

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