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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Brazil - 2012

Juruti Mine Reduces Costs, Boosts Production since 2009 Start-up


From its September 2009 startup through June 2012, Alcoa’s Juruti Mine in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon overcame significant challenges to reduce costs by 15% and boost production volume 64.5% above initial projections—all while maintaining its commitment to sustainability and the region’s socio-economic development.


The logistical, infrastructure, and human resources challenges of mining in a remote Amazonian area combined to push Juruti Mine’s costs above benchmarked levels from start-up. Management recognized the issue early and implemented a cost-improvement initiative during the mine’s ramp-up phase.


Cross-functional teams mapped out all costs, identified hidden financial losses, uncovered cost-reduction opportunities, established cost-reduction goals, and used a structured methodology to implement the final cost reductions.


Major initiatives included:

  • Implementing an efficient process to remove overburden at the mine site using bulldozers compared to the traditional process using trucks and excavators;
  • Renegotiating key mining service contracts after analysis revealed that 50% of the mine’s costs related to contracted services;
  • Revising the mining process and operational steps to ensure operational stability;
  • Obtaining a power-generation refund from the government; and
  • Debottlenecking the washing plant process to increase output 72%.


Through June 2012, the cost per ton of bauxite mined declined 31.6% from 2009 levels. In addition, production reached 4 million metric-tons-per-year compared to the 2.6 million metric tons projected before mining operations commenced.


The cross-functional teams continue to search for additional opportunities, meeting with mine leadership on a weekly basis. The cost-reduction process they established at the Juruti Mine has been shared with other Alcoa operations in Brazil and around the world.