part of the solution
 
alcoa’s mining rehabilitation breaks records
Alcoa has once again demonstrated why we are a recognised world leader in mine site rehabilitation.
 
We are committed to high standards of environmental performance and aim to return 100% of plant species richness in our rehabilitated mine site areas, compared with pre-mined jarrah forest.  We achieved this milestone in 2001.  In that year, we returned an average of 101.4% of botanical species to our rehabilitated areas across our Huntly and Willowdale mine rehabilitation sites in Western Australia.
 
New results show we recently achieved the target again.  Our rehabilitation which was planted in the 2006/07 season has resulted in our highest ever return of botanical richness - equal to 108.2%.  The result, which is above 100%, means that on average there are more species found in an equivalent area of rehabilitation, compared with the existing unmined forest.
 
Senior Alcoa Research Scientist, John Koch, said it was a significant achievement and something the rehabilitation team had been striving for since 2001.
 
“It means we have a good representation of plant species from the natural seed in the returned topsoil, from the seed mix we apply and from those we grow at the nursery and plant out,” he said.
 
Alcoa’s rehabilitation objective is to re-establish a functional ecosystem that will fulfil the pre-mining forest land uses including conservation, timber production, water catchment and recreation. 
 
“Our licence to mine in the jarrah forest comes with a responsibility, and we take that very seriously. We invest a lot of time and money into ensuring that we leave the forest in a condition as close as possible to the way we found it,” John said.
 
Environmental Scientist Anika Wall said it was important to get the right number of species thriving in the early rehabilitation stages.
 
“We know from extensive research that in the first decade or two the number of species in rehabilitation generally does not increase over time, so whatever we achieve in the initial stages is a good indication of how successful the rehabilitation will be longer term,” Anika said.
 
“When tour groups come through our rehabilitated areas, they often make comments that they can’t tell the difference between the rehabilitated areas and the unmined forest – that is really rewarding,” Anika said.
 
The ability to restore a piece of altered land relies heavily on a good understanding of the area’s ecology. 

“Our environmental team work in collaboration with local universities, government agencies and private researchers to help our understanding of the forest ecosystems and to ensure our rehabilitation is second to none,” Anika said.

Alcoa rehabilitates about 600 hectares of forest a year in the Darling Range south of Perth, Western Australia, following the mining of bauxite ore. Bauxite is then made into alumina. Following that, the alumina is made into aluminium and that aluminium is then used in things which are part of our everyday lives - like drink cans, mobile phones, cars, buses, planes, DVDs and much more.
 
Did you know we also mine and rehabilitate in Victoria? Alcoa mines brown coal at Anglesea for our power station at the same location.  The energy produced at Anglesea provides around 40% of the power requirements for our Point Henry aluminium smelter. In 2005, the Victorian Government recognised Alcoa with a Strzelecki Highly Commended Award for Management of the Natural Environment for our mine rehabilitation work at Anglesea. For more about our Anglesea operations click here.
 
alcoa continues to support australia’s carbon pollution reduction scheme
Alcoa of Australia welcomed the release of the Federal Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) White Paper at the end of last year. 
 
We believe there are important and sensible initiatives in the paper including recognition of the challenges the scheme presents for emissions intensive trade exposed industries (EITEIs).
 
However, the proposed scheme is no free ride for the aluminium industry.  Even with the provisions for EITEIs, the current CPRS proposal will still see a very large cost increase for our industry. For example, at a carbon price of $20-25/t, the current proposal is likely to cost the aluminium industry more than $150 million in the first year.

There are some aspects of the White Paper that we are looking at very carefully which will impact our industry, jobs and the reduction of greenhouse gases.  
 
  • First, it is essential that the rate of decay of EITE permits does not prejudice industry’s ability to compete in the international market place. If our Australian operations incur significant additional costs – and our competitors do not - it will render Australian industry unviable. An overly ambitious decay of EITE permits, ahead of competitors in other countries, could cause this impact. 
  • Second, it is essential that the complex issue of indirect emissions and the proposed electricity factor is well considered. Like all Victorians (households and industry), Alcoa’s Victorian operations rely on coal-fired power.  It would be nonsensical to cause carbon and jobs leakage by penalising Victorian operations before viable low-carbon alternatives are available. 
 
If these aspects are not adequately dealt with as part of the CPRS, we will experience severe economic and job impacts, even to the extent of seeing an increase in global emissions, therefore defeating the main objective of the scheme.

Throughout 2009 we will continue to work with the Government to ensure that the proposed CPRS is implemented in a way which keeps our industry viable and protects Australian jobs, while at the same time reducing Australia’s carbon footprint.
 
For more on Alcoa’s position around the CPRS visit: www.alcoa.com.au/climatechange


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