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Research

Alcoa has made a commitment to undertake and support scientific research in relation to its mining operations in Western Australia.  Alcoa’s mining research department employs about 10 full time staff.  The function of this group is to carry out research in a variety of areas in relation to bauxite mining and rehabilitation.  Research topics include hydrology and salinity, plant propagation, dieback, tree growth and silviculture, fauna return, ecosystem recovery and the overall ecology of mine restoration.  In addition the group provides in house environmental consulting and environmental monitoring for the mining operations.  Alcoa has established links to all of the State’s universities, and to other research institutes such as CSIRO and Kings Park over the past three decades. Substantial funding supports basic and applied environmental research by these organisations.
 
Alcoa co-funded a lecturer position in plant ecology at the University of Western Australia from 1978 to 1990. This fulfilled a need to establish a centre of excellence for study of native plant ecology. Alcoa also funded a lecturer position in plant pathology at Murdoch University from 1994 to 1998. Again, this developed a centre of excellence to study plant diseases, in particular Phytophthora dieback disease in WA. The Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management was opened by Dr Judy Edwards, Minister for Environment, in June 2003.
 
As well as funding numerous projects, Alcoa’s environmental staff have co-supervised approximately one hundred honours, masters and PhD students. This support of universities not only provides Alcoa with important research information, but also gives the students valuable training in environmental matters associated with the resource sector.
 
Most environmental management courses in WA universities include at least one visit to Alcoa’s mine rehabilitation operations. Several courses also include one or more lectures from Alcoa environmental staff.
 
Alcoa contributes to the growth of the international science-based body of knowledge by sharing its research through papers and publications.  In 2007 a special edition of the international scientific journal Restoration Ecology was composed entirely of environmental research undertaken by Alcoa’s environmental mining staff and external partners.
 
A full list of publications relating to Alcoa’s bauxite mine rehabilitation is found in Environmental Research Note Number 11 which can be accessed on the link below.
 


Mining environmental research seminar group

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Participants at a recent Alcoa student seminar day.

Mulitple Publications

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Alcoa environmental staff willingly shares their research with the wider scientific community and other mining companies.