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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Myara Crusher

The first of two crushers was moved to the new Myara mining area in April 2013.

 

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Rooting Sustainability into the Mine Planning Process

 

Rehabilitating bauxite mines is a key sustainability objective for Alcoa, but the company’s newest mining area in Australia shows that planning and designing a mine’s infrastructure years before the first bauxite is unearthed can be equally important in achieving the company’s sustainability goals.

 

Alcoa’s Huntly Mine in Western Australia is the largest bauxite mine in the world. As bauxite reserves in a specific area within the mining concession are mined out, the mine’s infrastructure is relocated to the next area of reserves to minimize operational costs and environmental impacts from hauling the bauxite longer distances. This infrastructure includes two massive mobile crushers, which reduce the bauxite ore into a smaller and more uniform size and weigh more than 700 metric tons each; an overland conveyor system; maintenance and production facilities; access roads; and other infrastructure, such as water and power lines.

 

The next region for Huntly Mine is Myara, which Alcoa began mining in April 2013. Planning for the new mine location and infrastructure relocation began in 2006 and included the development of 10 safety and sustainability objectives supported by specific short- and long-term targets and linked to key enablers. These objectives covered safety, employees, community, greenhouse gas emissions, water conservation, water quality/quantity, biological diversity, economic benefit, cost, and decommissioning.

 

A critical element of the infrastructure relocation was the access road. The key goal was to shorten the driving distance for employees to reduce vehicle emissions and lessen fatigue risks. The road’s location also had to mitigate community concerns regarding safety, noise, dust, and more. Other environmental and economic costs were also considered in the route’s selection.

 

Alcoa first performed a sustainability assessment to identify possible access options. To select the preferred option with the least overall impact, the company developed sustainability criteria, with likely benefits and impacts for each. These were then used to construct a set of desirable criteria against each objective (see table). Employee objectives covered travel time, convenience, cost, and visitor access. For local communities, the objectives included no significant increase in traffic and related issues.

 

“Our concerns were that we would have excessive traffic running past our property on a daily basis,” said resident Paul Royans. “In particular, we were worried about noise and the potential for accidents, as we’re on a bad corner in the road. Alcoa’s engagement has been excellent, and we are satisfied with what is planned to take place. I have a good opinion of Alcoa as a neighbor, and the project has done nothing to adversely affect this. The company has done everything possible to minimize impact to surrounding properties.”

 

With Australia’s water shortage crisis, water conservation was another critical sustainability objective for the relocated infrastructure. To achieve it, Alcoa pre-mined an area next to the new crusher site to create a lined reservoir to capture and store rainwater and additional water runoff from the surrounding infrastructure. Other rainfall catchment areas will be created as mining progresses outward, with approximately 25% of the water required for the operations being captured. Once the mining operations are again relocated, which could be as early as 2023, the reservoir and crusher site footprint will be rehabilitated. 


The Myara crusher site also was planned for future relocations. Much of the infrastructure from the old site, including the crushers, buildings, platforms, and bridges, is being used at the new site. In addition, any new infrastructure put into place must be able to be relocated to the next site or removed completely.

 

Sustainability Criteria for the Myara Access Option Assessment
Objective
Criteria Description
Safety The access option is of a standard and condition that enables Alcoa employees, contractors, suppliers, and visitors to access the mine by vehicle safely.
Safety The access option will not increase travel distance or travel time for employees on their way to and from work and increase the possibility of fatigue.
Employees The access option will not increase travel distance or travel time for employees on their way to work (cost to employee).
Employees The access option will allow flexibility and convenience in start and finish times and the ability to leave work as required in the case of an emergency.
Community The access option will not significantly increase local traffic in the area and result in increased safety risk, noise, and litter, and cause traffic delays.
Community The access option will have minimal interaction with local school, pedestrians, or cyclists.
Community The access option causes minimal inconvenience and delays during construction for local residents and road users.
Community The shire is accepting of access option as suitable for an industrial road (e.g., conflicts with road classification, scenic road, or monastery).
Greenhouse
Emissions
The access option will not significantly increase ongoing indirect fuel usage due to the length and final steepness of the alignment.
Greenhouse
Emissions
The access option construction will have a minimal carbon footprint.
Water
Conservation
The access option requires minimal water for construction and ongoing maintenance.
Water Quality The access option has minimal impact on drinking water catchments and local aquatic environments.
Biological
Diversity
Clearing of the un-mined forest is minimized by the access option route alignment.
Biological
Diversity
The construction and ongoing use of the access option poses minimal threat to local fauna populations.
Economic Benefit The option will provide a long-term asset to the local community and/or local and state government stakeholders.
Economic Benefit The access option will benefit local businesses.
Cost Overall capital cost for the road option construction is minimized.
Cost The access option facilitates the provision for a sealed link access (road network) between McCoy and Myara at minimal cost.
Cost Ongoing maintenance and operating costs of the access option are minimized.
Decommissioning The cost of decommissioning for the access option is minimal.