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bauxite residue sand trials continue
Assessment and exploration of the unique properties and diverse uses for Alcoa’s processed bauxite residue sand (Red Sand™) are continuing with a further three trials underway in Western Australia.

These follow previous successful trials of the product including as a road base along Greenlands Road and as top dressing for Fairbridge Oval, both near Pinjarra.

Two of the current trials are at golf courses, while the third is at Alcoa’s Wellard Wetlands just south of Kwinana.

The Royal Perth Golf Club is using around 20 tonnes of Red Sand in a bunker trial to help resolve issues with ‘ball plugging’. Ball plugging occurs when a ball becomes embedded in the face of a bunker, causing unintended difficulties in playing from the bunker. The high strength characteristics of Red Sand are expected to provide some resistance to golf balls becoming embedded in the bunkers.

The use of Bassendean Grey Sand, which comprises round particles, is not ideal for this purpose because it provides poor surface stability resulting in shallow bunkers. In contrast, the angular nature of Red Sand particles, caused by milling, locks together and creates greater surface stability allowing for steeper faces within the bunkers.

The Kwinana Golf Club is also trialling the product as a top dressing material. Its phosphorous retention benefits are again being put to the test, as well as its drainage properties. It is expected that an increase in the efficiency of fertilisers will be demonstrated. And it’s anticipated the high iron content in Red Sand will generate a greener turf and improve the growth rate, as was the case with the Fairbridge Oval trial.

The final trial is taking place at Baldivis. A 15m x 15m x 2m pad has been laid consisting of environmental monitoring equipment and a series of compacted layers of Red Sand.   This 10-week project will assess whether Red Sand is suitable for use as an industrial fill that would augment conventional use of sand and limestone. Key aspects of the trial will be the compaction and strength characteristics of the material, and confirmation of the sand’s environmental credentials.

Red Sand is produced by a pilot plant operating at Kwinana Refinery’s residue area. The plant neutralises caustic from the refining process and removes most of the remaining carbonate salts producing a sand product with excellent strength and drainage characteristics.

Alcoa recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in relation to Red Sand with a leading industrial garnet producer, Garnet International Resources Ltd. The MOU has paved the way for these further trials, which will aid efforts to have the material approved for sale as an alternative to general purpose sand.

Once formal endorsements are secured, it’s proposed that a full scale Red Sand plant will be constructed, commissioned and operated under a joint venture arrangement with Garnet International Resources at Kwinana Refinery’s residue area. Read more about residue at www.alcoa.com.au/residue.

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Red Sand pilot plant

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