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Learn about the environmental aspects of the process
Alcoa is one of the largest aluminum companies in the world. We have the capabilities to extract raw materials, process them into aluminum, convert the metal into end-use products or make them available to others for further processing, and recycle aluminum products at the end of their useful life. The activities of Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products in Québec focus on the production of primary aluminum, and the electricity used in its process is primarily hydroelectric. The main raw materials used are coal tar pitch and petroleum coke (used to make carbon anodes), carbon cathodes, alumina, cryolite, aluminum fluoride and various alloy products.
Aluminum is manufactured from alumina (Al2O3) through a process of electrolysis. The alumina is dissolved in a cryolite bath to be electrolyzed at a lower temperature. Electric current passes through the cell by means of carbon electrodes. The basic process requires a little over four tons of bauxite to produce approximately two tons of aluminum oxide, which, in combination with just under a half-ton of carbon, produce one ton of aluminum. Once manufactured, the metal can be used for a wide variety of products. Because it does not rust, decay, or lose its quality, it can be recycled repeatedly without loss of properties.
Since we produce primary aluminum, the materials consumed are new materials, with the exception of the aluminum recovered from foundry dross which is recycled, internally or externally, and then reintroduced with new metal during casting. The processes in our facilities are also designed to reuse matter captured by our treatment and scrubbing systems.
We are aware of the importance of materials flow throughout the world economies, and we recognize the need to make efficient use of all raw materials and natural assets. We believe that there is economic as well as stewardship justification for minimizing material flows, and we continue our work to make all of our processes as efficient as possible.