Hydro Breaks Ground on New Tech Center


Hydro has begun work work on its new technology center in Årdal, Norway. The NOK 200 million (US$31.7 million) facility is scheduled to open in 2007.

The center under construction in Årdal, located in the Sogn region in western Norway, supplements a package of enterprise development measures between Hydro and local councils. The projects are intended to create new jobs in Årdal and Høyanger, replacing those disappearing as aging aluminium production lines are phased out.

"The development of the technology center shows that Årdal has an important place in Hydro's future initiatives in aluminium,” says Eivind Reiten, Hydro's President and CEO. During a visit to the Årdal works on Thursday he pointed out that Årdal has all it takes to be an important part of Hydro's aluminium operations for many decades to come.

The aluminium plants in Årdal and Høyanger will have nearly 1,000 employees and production worth approximately NOK 5 billion (US$792.5 million) in 2006. Both works will maintain significant production and lasting employment even after the closure of the aging Søderberg lines, which are being closed to meet international environmental obligations.

Significant investments
Hydro has entered into comprehensive cooperative agreements on business development with the councils in Årdal and Høyanger. In recent years Hydro has contributed more than NOK 250 million (US$39.6 million) to the local business enterprises and investment funds in Årdal and Høyanger.

"The change-over process really got underway four years ago. Social responsibility is about making changes in good time. I am convinced that Årdal and Høyanger will join the list of sucessful change processes in Norway where Hydro has shown the way," says Reiten.

In addition to Hydro's own operations, the company has cooperated with the councils to contribute to creating new jobs in other sectors to create a wider platform for enterprise in these industrial communities.

In Høyanger this has lead to the creation of about 100 new jobs in a dozen companies, and in Årdal, two major new start-up enterprises will create about 130 jobs next year, at the same time as up to 50 new jobs are being established in a number of small and medium-sized companies.

At the same time as Hydro has invested heavily in operations, particularly in Årdal. Hydro has invested more than NOK 4 billion (US$634 million) in the Årdal operations in recent years, including the expansion of the Nye Tyin hydropower facility.