Efforts are now underway on the fact-finding stage of the project investigation, said the Norwegian industrial group.

The MoU was signed by Norsk Hydro’s head of strategy and business develoment, Arvid Moss, the Angolan Minister of Energy, Emanuela Vieira Lopes, and the Deputy Minister of Industry, Kiala Gabriel.

Norsk Hydro said that the deal follows several years of discussion with the Angolan Government to develop the combined hydro power-smelter concept. It would represent a long-term opportunity for the company, it added.

The strategic move comes despite the global economic downturn and weakening in demand for aluminium.

On its existing hydro power portfolio, the company said in its first quarter results that it found damage to part of the 160MW Suldal I plant at Roldal-Suldal during a maintenance shutdown in March. The plant will be out of action for at least six months

Suldal I normally generates 1TWh per year and the shutdown will have a notable effect on the company’s hydro power output this year. This is compounded by the year having started with water storage and the snowpack levels not only lower than average but ‘considerably’ less than the same periods over the last two years.

The company added that hydro power generation and financial results were expected to be down in Q2 compared to previous quarters.