It blamed lower realized aluminium prices and continued weak markets, in particular for European extrusion operations, for the result.

Hydro’s CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg said: “Continued weak demand and low aluminium prices weigh down first-quarter results. We will continue our restructuring efforts, reduce costs and take firm actions required to keep a steady course.”

He expects global aluminium demand growth outside China at around 3% in 2012.

He added that its Qatalum, Paragominas and Alunorte sites had had particularly strong production performance for the quarter.

Production volumes declined mainly due to the curtailment of one production line at the Kurri Kurri smelter in Australia. Demand remained weak for Hydro's European extrusion business and Building Systems in particular.