Hydro CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg attributed the improved results to higher prices and sales, combined with firm margins and tight cost control in a seasonally strong quarter.

Hydro’s alumina and raw materials business showed improved results, mainly due to the Alunorte alumina refinery which posted higher sales volumes as a result of more stable production.

The ramp-up of the Qatalum aluminium plant in Qatar continued during the quarter with about half of the 704 cells operating at the end of June 2010.

Production from the plant's remaining cells will be phased in during 2010 and the ramp-up is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter this year.

Closing of the takeover of Vale’s aluminium business is also expected in Q4 this year.

Hydro said global demand for primary aluminium excluding China strengthened in Q2 reaching an annualised consumption of around 24Mt.

Production outside China increased to 25Mt on an annualised basis. Demand for primary in China increased from the previous quarter to around 17.6Mt on an annual basis.

Mr Brandtzaeg said demand for metal products (extrusion ingot, sheet ingot, foundry alloys and wire rod) during Q2 continued above levels experienced in the same quarter of last year.

Consumption in the European flat rolled product market improved by 5% in Q2 compared to the previous quarter.

European demand for extruded products declined slightly from Q1 which was influenced by customer restocking. North America experienced a seasonal increase in demand compared with Q1 and the market appears to be improving following a long period of continuous decline.

Mr Brandtzaeg said he expected demand in its upstream and downstream markets to grow 12% in 2010.