part of the solution

milestone for alumina refining by-product 
The recovery and reuse of bauxite residue sand on a commercial scale is a step closer following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Alcoa of Australia Limited and leading industrial garnet producer, Garnet International Resources Limited. 

In 2006, Alcoa’s global refining research and development team, the Technology Delivery Group (TDG), based at the Kwinana Refinery in Western Australia, developed a carbonation and wash system to process residue, producing an inorganic sand by-product known as Red Sand™.

Successful large-scale trials of the by-product over the past three years - including as a road base to widen the Greenlands Road access to the new Perth to Bunbury Highway south of Pinjarra - have demonstrated its potential strengths for a range of applications. Red Sand’s excellent strength and drainage characteristics make it ideal for road base.  Other successful trials have included using the Red Sand as a top dressing of Fairbridge Oval near Pinjarra and a number of golf courses in the Perth metro area.

The MOU paves the way for further research and trials with the aim of then securing approval to commercialise and market Red Sand as an alternative to general purpose sand. Alcoa and Garnet International Resources hope Red Sand will be approved for further trials later this year.

When commercialisation approvals are secured, it is intended the Red Sand plant will be constructed, commissioned and then operated under a joint venture with Garnet International Resources adjacent to the Kwinana Refinery.

Alcoa of Australia Managing Director, Alan Cransberg, said he believes the MOU is the first step towards taking a high quality product to market with multiple available end uses.

“When we started out on this journey 20 years ago, looking into whether we could turn our residue into a useful by-product, it was driven by a desire to reduce the size of our residue areas - and that was a goal our local communities shared with us.

“Over that time, we’ve uncovered some additional opportunities we hadn’t originally considered. Now with Garnet International Resources on board I’m really excited about what we can achieve together,” he said. 

Garnet International Resources CEO, Torsten Ketelsen, said: “This MOU with Alcoa provides Garnet International Resources the opportunity to apply and expand its mineral processing technology and over 40 years of experience processing high quality GMA Garnet in the State’s mid west.”

“Over the past 10 years, we have pioneered industrial recycling/processing of mineral residue on an industrial scale worldwide,” he said.

“This is an exciting project with huge potential and environmental and commercial benefits for Western Australia for many years to come,” Mr Ketelsen said.

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Red Sand being used as a road base to widen the Greenlands Road access to the new Perth to Bunbury Highway south of Pinjarra

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Alcoa's Residue Technical Manager, Dr David Cooling