Water

Water is used at every step of the mining, refining and aluminium production process.  We realise that water is a precious resource and we acknowledge we are a significant water user.

Alcoa has made progress over the years towards our goal to reduce water use.  In 2009, our Australian operations used 16,661 Mega Litres (ML) of fresh water and 7,089 ML of poorer quality water, a total of 23,750ML – compared with a total of 30,279 ML used back in 2004.  [Note: These figures include the water we collect on our own property (eg groundwater bores and dams.)] 

We purchase less than one sixth of our water from the public water supply.

In total our WA operations used 19,239.9ML of water in 2009, with just 2288.2ML coming from external sources.  Wagerup Refinery did not purchase any water from the Harvey Water Corporation during 2009, with all the water used at that site collected from our own property.

In total during 2009, our Victorian smelters and Alcoa Anglesea used 4170.9ML of water with just 582.9ML coming from external sources.

Alcoa Chair in Sustainable Water Management
With water management one of Australia’s most critical issues, Alcoa of Australia invested $600,000 in a three year partnership with Murdoch University to establish the Alcoa Chair in Sustainable Water Management in late 2008. In 2009 Professor Richard Harper was appointed to the position based at Murdoch University. 

Murdoch University has an international reputation for research on environmental sustainability, and the inaugural Alcoa Chair in Sustainable Water Management will provide leadership in the critical field of water management. It will also help address urgent water queries specific to Western Australia and broader issues faced by Australia - including impacts of changing rainfall patterns, water capture, reuse and recycling. In establishing this Chair, Alcoa has taken an important step in helping to identify sustainable water solutions for Alcoa and the community.

Professor Harper has been involved with aspects of soil and water degradation in Western Australia for over 25 years, including work regarding wind erosion, soil acidity and salinity.  His initial research is focusing on the biodiverse hot spot of South-West Western Australia and he will consult with environmental and community groups, as well as industry partners, to determine key issues and priorities.

Recycled Water Reuse
Water recycling is likely to be an essential future component of water management for Australian cities. 

Pinjarra Refinery in the country’s South West currently utilises secondary treated water from the local township of Pinjarra, but has the capacity to use more recycled water.  Mandurah is a growing city approximately 30 kilometres from the Pinjarra Refinery and has excess waste water available for treatment and use in industrial settings. 

Alcoa has been investigating the possibility of recycled water use at the Pinjarra Refinery in order to lessen the refinery’s environmental footprint.   We have a team of people who are dedicated to researching the alternative water source options in the region, with the aim of taking the pressure off high-grade sources.

The ‘Alcoa Pinjarra Alternative Water Project’ is striving to secure an alternative long-term water supply for the Pinjarra Refinery via the installation of a pipeline (potentially a ~30km 500mm diameter pipeline) from the Gordon Road Waste Water Treatment Plant in Mandurah, through to the refinery.  The pipeline would carry secondary treated wastewater, which would be further treated at the refinery to ensure its suitability for use in the refinery’s processes.  In 2009 it was established that this idea was feasible.  This initiative is supported by the City of Mandurah, the Shire of Murray, the WA Department of Water, the WA Department of Environment and Conservation, and other key stakeholders.

There are similar opportunities around our Kwinana and Wagerup refineries where we could utilise ‘fit for purpose’ water supplies. A water strategy for Alcoa’s Western Australian operations is currently being developed with involvement from technical, environment and procurement experts to ensure all refineries optimise water recycling options.

Water Recycling Award
In 2007 our McCoy Crusher Facility at the Huntly Mine was awarded the Water Recycling Award by the Department of Water and the Water Corporation.  The McCoy facility was specifically designed to maximise water harvesting and recycling.   Storm water runoff and treated wastewater are collected in a purpose built reservoir and used for haul road dust suppression.  This leading edge design was created from a range of industry best practice engineering solutions and successful innovations.






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