our business

finalist in 2011 PACE zenith awards
Alcoa of Australia has been selected as a finalist in the 8th annual PACE Zenith Awards for our residue reuse work.

The Awards recognise companies and individuals, across nine industries in Australia and New Zealand, which show leadership in engineering and technological innovation.  Alcoa is a finalist in the ‘Mining, Minerals and Exploration’ category which will be awarded to a company that has successfully implemented a process or automation solution in any aspect of mining, minerals processing or automation.

In WA we refine bauxite into alumina, and the residue remaining after this process takes place is compromised of two primary components of roughly equal quantity – sand and mud. As a leader in sustainability, Alcoa is committed to ensuring sustainability principles are applied to the management of bauxite residue.

For a number of years Alcoa has been working towards turning our bauxite residue into valuable by-products - Red Sand and Alkaloam.

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

Successful large-scale trials of Red Sand over the past several 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. Its 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.

We took a major step-forward towards commercialisation of Red Sand earlier this year when we signed of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with leading industrial garnet producer, Garnet International Resources Limited.  Read more about this MOU.

Alkaloam is the fine-grained residue which is carbonated through a reaction with carbon dioxide.  It is alkaline which increases soil pH in the same way as agricultural lime.  While traditional lime can take a number of years to effectively reduce the pH of soil, Alkaloam can achieve this same result almost straight away.  Therefore, Alkaloam allows farmers to gain maximum benefits from the adjustment in soil pH far sooner than waiting for a soil response over one or more rainy seasons.

The annual PACE Zenith Awards was established by Process and Control Engineering (PACE) magazine. The Awards will be announced on 16 June 2011.

For more detail about residue reuse visit www.alcoa.com.au/residue or click here.

technology could produce aluminium with fewer emissions
Our parent company, Alcoa Inc, has finalised a deal with ORKLA ASA to acquire full ownership of the technology associated with the carbothermic aluminium production process - previously jointly owned by the two companies.

Now in the research and development phase, the carbothermic aluminium production process is a new technology that holds the potential to produce aluminium at a lower cost, driven by reduced conversion costs, lower energy requirements, and lower emissions at a lower capital cost than traditional smelting. The technology also holds potential for significant cost improvements in the production of other metals.

Group President of Alcoa’s Global Primary Products, John Thuestad, said: “Alcoa will continue research on the carbothermic production process that we pioneered and have advanced with Orkla’s support over the past few years.”

“If successful, the carbothermic process would allow for economical operation of smaller facilities with flexible power supplies that the current generation of smelters cannot meet. This would improve the ability to site new facilities.”

The research facility will be relocated to Alcoa’s facility in Lista, Norway.

“Alcoa chose the Lista site to continue research on this potentially breakthrough technology because of the skills of the Alcoa Norway team and the supportive environment Norway provides for innovation,” Mr Thuestad said.

“We believe this is the right place to continue developing carbothermic technology.”

return to front page

Click image to enlarge.

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

Click image to enlarge.