BHP Billiton said the newly expanded Alumar alumina refinery in Brazil has started production.

The expansion, which included upgrading the plant to remove bottlenecks and adding an extra line, will increase output at the refinery by two million tonnes to a total production capacity of 3.5 million metric tons a year.

The plant is more than 98% complete and the final ramp-up to full production is expected later in the year.

The refinery is owned by Alumar Consortium, a joint venture between Alcoa, BHP and Rio Tinto Alcan.