Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro said on Tuesday that its project to build a huge smelter in Qatar remains on track for a start-up at the turn of the year 2009/10.

Norsk Hydro is building the 585,000-tonnes-per-year Qatalum smelter in a joint venture with Qatar Petroleum.

A Qatar Petroleum official earlier on Tuesday was reported as saying the aluminium plant would start up in the first quarter of 2010. Hydro has earlier said it expected first metal from the plant in 2009 and a ramp-up to full output in 2010.

“It can depend on how one defines a start-up, but according to our plans we will start up at the turn of the year 2009/2010,” Norsk Hydro investor relations chief Stefan Solberg told Reuters. “We have not specified a month.”

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