Creating a Sustainable Future Using Bauxite Residue
We continue to explore opportunities to use bauxite residue as a source material for a variety of applications. We have also developed, tested, and, in some cases, implemented process modifications aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of residue storage and chemically rendering the material so it is more suitable for re-use or long-term management.
In Australia, for example, our Technology Delivery Group has developed a carbonation and wash system to process the sand component of bauxite residue. This neutralizes any caustic and removes most of the remaining carbonate salts, making the end product, known as Red SandTM, environmentally benign. Red Sand is essentially crushed rock that is red in color. Testing shows it can be used as a general fill material, construction backfill, or a material suitable for road base construction.
Our work also involves rehabilitating bauxite storage areas for reuse. In Brazil, a former disposal area is now a 26-hectare (64-acre) rehabilitated area that supports native Brazilian trees and other vegetation as well as reemerging animal life. The reclaimed land is also serving as a natural research laboratory.
We also believe it’s important to work with the surrounding communities as we plan for future bauxite residue disposal areas. In Australia, residue stakeholder reference groups with broad representation from the local community and state and local governments helped in the development of long-term residue management strategies (see case study).
In 2010, we established as series of new long-term goals aimed at reducing the overall footprint associated with our management of bauxite residue. Specifically, these goals address the reuse of residue, rate of rehabilitation of management areas, and reduction of the overall footprint required. See the Strategic Sustainability Targets section for details.