Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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2008 — Environment

The Deschambault Smelter’s facilities at the Port of Trois-Rivières

The main raw materials used by the Deschambault Smelter – alumina, coke and petroleum – arrive by ship at the Port of Trois-Rivières.  Storage capacity is 75,000 metric tons for alumina and 20,000 metric tons for coke and petroleum. 
Every year, approximately 439,000 metric tons of alumina and 55,000 metric tons of coke arrive by ship.  These materials are unloaded by Élévateurs de Trois-Rivières using a marine tower equipped with an elevator with an articulated bucket.  The latter tranships the materials onto a series of belt conveyors, linked to dust collectors, which transport them to storage reservoirs.  The raw materials are then shipped to the Deschambault Smelter by railcar. 
In 2005, $930,000 was invested in safety to protect workers from falls and while they are working on moving equipment.  The initiative represented 240 modifications or additions to existing facilities and equipment.  All of these improvements were made in collaboration with the workers from Élévateurs de Trois-Rivières.  The team even developed a new type of protection for those working on the belt conveyors, which earned the group a nomination for an award in health and safety innovation from the CSST (Quebec health and safety commission).
Between 2006 and today, always with a view to improving hygiene and the environment, we made numerous changes to all of our equipment to correct various dust problems at the source.  In some cases, this dust represented an environmental nuisance for the area surrounding the Port of Trois-Rivières.
After several meetings, analyses, trials and discussions with service suppliers, permanent and/or temporary modifications were made and have generated satisfactory results.
  • In the past, after a 52,000 metric-ton ship was unloaded, operators had to systematically drive a vacuum truck on the floor of some of the buildings to pick up significant amounts of alumina that had escaped during transhipment, thereby generating dust.  After certain changes were made, results have shown that there are now only traces of dust, reducing the manipulation of alumina surpluses which used to have to be transported using a loader with a rocker arm shovel. 
  • This has translated into important environmental gains, since dust emissions are practically nil now, transportation needs have been reduced and, accordingly the GHG emissions that would have been produced by the loader.  These environmental benefits also impact operational costs since there is a lot less manpower assigned to transportation.  We have concluded that, in this case, there is a net return for the environment and we are reducing operational costs, proving that helping the environment can pay off!  Several other actions are underway in the pursuit of our sustainable development objectives.
In 2007, we supported the implementation of an environmental policy at the Port of Trois-Rivières.  In fact, port authorities, together with port facility users, are putting in place a policy that integrates the environment into their daily operations, thereby minimizing the impact of port activities on the environment.
Sustainable development is a philosophy supported continuously through the efforts and know-how of all.
Congratulations and thank you to all those to are involved in this project.
Yves Gagnon
Deschambault Smelter