OSLO, Oct 24 (Reuters) – Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro’s third-quarter earnings far exceeded forecasts on Wednesday amid rising metals prices, but the company is still in the dark over when its key Brazilian alumina plant can return to full production. The company won permits from Brazilian authorities earlier this month to restart operations at half capacity at its Alunorte alumina refinery, the world’s largest. The resumption was the latest twist in a months-long environmental dispute with Brazilian authorities, after the metals maker admitted to making unlicensed emissions of untreated water during severe rains in February. “The market for aluminium is tightening, and we expect the 2018 global primary market in deficit,” CEO Svein Richard Brandtzaeg said in a statement.

“We continue the dialogue with the authorities with the aim to resume full production at Alunorte, but the timing remains uncertain,” he added. The company’s underlying earnings before interest and taxes EBIT) came in at 2.68 billion crowns against the 1.8 billion crowns expected in a Reuters poll and up from 2.4 billion crowns in the year-ago period.