May 19, 2011

Alcoa: Innovation Award Finalist

Alcoa of Australia has been selected as a finalist in the annual PACE Zenith Awards for its sustainability work in turning bauxite residue into valuable by-products.

The Awards, now in their 8th year, recognise companies and individuals, across nine industries in Australia and New Zealand, showing leadership in engineering and technological innovation. Alcoa is a finalist in the 'Mining, Minerals and Exploration' category, to be awarded to a company that has successfully implemented a process or automation solution in any aspect of mining, minerals processing or automation.

Alcoa in Western Australia extracts alumina from bauxite ore. The residue remaining after the refining process consists primarily of two roughly equal components – sand and mud.

In 2006, Alcoa‟s global refining research and development team, the Technology Delivery Group, based at the Kwinana alumina refinery, developed a carbonation and wash system to process residue sand, producing an inorganic sand by-product known as Red Sand™.

Successful large-scale trials of the by-product over several years have demonstrated its potential strengths for a range of applications. These include use as a road base to widen the Greenlands Road access to the Perth to Bunbury Highway south of Pinjarra, and top dressing for Fairbridge Oval near Pinjarra and on a number of golf courses in the Perth metro area.

Alcoa is currently working towards reuse of residue sand on a commercial scale, under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with leading industrial garnet producer, Garnet International Resources Limited.

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

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

The annual PACE Zenith Awards will be announced in Sydney on 16 June 2011.

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Media contact: Sarah Tempest 0404 800 417