Biodiversity Management Plan Implementation
Biodiversity Management Plan Implementation

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Mining Land Disturbed/Land Rehabilitated
Mining Land Disturbed/Land Rehabilitated

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Bauxite Mining

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Committed to Preserving the Land

 

 

Biodiversity

Consistent with Alcoa’s environmental policy and our published position on sustainable development, we actively endorse the concept of conservation of biodiversity by operating worldwide in a manner that minimizes effects on natural habitats and biological resources.

 

We uphold a commitment not to explore, mine, or operate in World Heritage Sites. We are also committed to avoiding legally designated protected areas where strict nature conservation is the management objective.

Pocos de Caldas location in Brazil

The Poços de Caldas location in Brazil includes a 331-hectare (818-acre) environmental park.

More broadly, we endorse the concept of multiple land use where possible. We have successfully operated mines, alumina refineries, and aluminum smelters in sensitive native ecosystems. We have demonstrated our ability to reestablish complex ecosystems and avoid impacts to protected species and significant biodiversity values, such as endemic and special-status species and critical habitats.

 

Our mining rehabilitation standard states that mining is a transient land use. It also supports the objectives of returning mined areas to a sustainable future use, which may include returning mines in natural areas to their pre-mining condition to maintain biodiversity values.

 

Accordingly, biodiversity conservation is a key consideration in planning for new or expanded operations, divestment of assets no longer operated, and day-to-day management of lands we own. Our basic approach is to avoid sensitive areas where possible, minimize the disturbance of the original habitat, and work closely with community and regulatory stakeholders to restore those lands we do impact to the most productive use possible, including, where feasible, re-establishing pre-operating conditions.

 

With the increasing concern for controlling greenhouse gas emissions and their potential impact on climate change, we also look to incorporate carbon offsetting opportunities in the re-vegetation and restoration work we perform.

 

One of our challenges is to measure our performance on biodiversity management. We recognize that this is a strategic environmental goal, but unlike emissions and discharges or the use of resources, it is difficult to find a metric that can be aggregated across our diverse businesses. We have an aspirational goal to provide a net positive impact on biodiversity everywhere we operate, but as yet we have been unable to develop a common, quantifiable global goal that measures such impact.

 

For land disturbed by mining or the construction of residue storage areas, we track the status of our footprint. We have programs underway to minimize that footprint, and we are committed to maintaining a progressive rehabilitation program in our ongoing operations. 

 

Our metrics for mine and residue storage area footprints are quantitative measures. As such, they do not give an indication of the quality of the rehabilitation in terms of meeting land use and biodiversity objectives. However, our mine rehabilitation standard, bauxite residue closure guidance, and site-specific rehabilitation and closure plans require recognition of the unique biodiversity qualities at each of these operations. We develop each site’s rehabilitation program accordingly. 

 

Most of our facilities are for production rather than mining, but some encompass large areas of land that are of substantial ecological and biodiversity value. These facilities do not necessarily disturb the land, but they may have negative or positive biodiversity impacts on it.

 

Sites Within or Adjacent to Protected Areas or Areas of High Biodiversity Value
Operational Site
Site Location & Size
Position
Biodiversity Value
Huntly and Willowdale Mines (bauxite mines) Jarrah Forest, Western Australia

712,900 hectares
(1,761,614 acres)
Within protected area Recognized by Conservation International as an international biodiversity hotspot; threatened species and ecological communities (International Union for Conservation of Nature—IUCN—and federal government listed)
Anglesea Power Station
(coal mine and power station)
Anglesea, Victoria, Australia

7,221 hectares (17,843 acres)
Within and adjacent to protected area Adjacent land zoned for conservation and listed on the National Estate Register; threatened species and ecological communities (IUCN and federal government listed)
Wagerup Refinery (alumina refinery) Wagerup, Western Australia

6,000 hectares (14,826 acres)
Contains portions of area of biodiversity value Ramsar listed wetlands adjacent; threatened species and ecological communities (IUCN and federal government listed)
Portland Aluminium Smelter (aluminum smelter) Portland, Victoria, Australia

500 hectares
(1,236 acres)
Adjacent to protected area Threatened species and ecological communities (IUCN and federal government listed)
Juruti Mine (bauxite mine, railroad, and port facility) Juruti, Brazil

6,000 hectares (14,826 acres) that will be mined
Within protected area Amazon rainforest and river; threatened species and ecological communities (IUCN listed)
Poços de Caldas Operations (bauxite mine, alumina refinery, and aluminum smelter) Poços de Caldas, Brazil

2,327 hectares
(5,750 acres)
Within area of biodiversity value Fragmented native forests; threatened species (IUCN listed)
Paranam Mine (bauxite mine) Paramaribo, Suriname

37,000 hectares (91,429 acres)
Adjacent to protected area Adjacent to IUCN protected area; threatened species (IUCN listed)
Mount Oliphant and Harmons Valley mines and the Jamalco Refinery
(bauxite mine, alumina refinery)
Parish of Manchester & Clarendon, Jamaica

23,654 hectares (58,450 acres)
Contains portions of area of biodiversity value Fragmented native forests
Point Comfort Refinery
(alumina refinery)
Point Comfort, Texas, USA

1,417 hectares
(3,501 acres)
Adjacent to protected area Native grassland and intertidal emergent marsh (protected under the Clean Water Act); threatened species (IUCN and federal government listed)

 

We want to recognize what ecological impacts we might have at all of our locations, minimize the negative ones, and promote the positive opportunities. To this end, we have a strategic sustainability target for all of our locations with substantive biodiversity values and land holdings to develop biodiversity action plans by 2015. These plans will:

  • Identify the biodiversity values of the land, including sensitive habitats and the presence of threatened species and communities, in context with surrounding land;
  • Pinpoint potential impacts, both positive and negative;
  • Develop a management plan based on the hierarchy of biodiversity mitigation measures—avoid > minimize > rectify > compensate;
  • Inform our employees and communities where we operate about the importance of biodiversity protection, and encourage their participation in biodiversity initiatives; and
  • Set and report performance against site-specific targets.

 

To select locations requiring a biodiversity action plan, we have developed criteria that are based on the extent of native vegetation, sensitive ecosystems, threatened species, ecological communities, and habitats.

 

In 2012, our global biodiversity team surveyed 40 select locations around the world to acquire information on their ecological values. We asked 20 of those locations to develop a biodiversity action plan, and we recommended another 14 develop a plan based on their potential to implement local biodiversity initiatives. These 34 locations represent approximately 17% of our locations worldwide. The remaining six locations from the initial ones surveyed are not within or adjacent to lands containing biodiversity value.

 

We continued to move forward with these plans in 2013 despite challenging economic circumstances. Five priority locations worked on developing their biodiversity action plans, while the remaining 29 locations are waiting on these plans to serve as examples for developing their own plans. Three locations (our mining operations in Western Australia, the Portland Aluminium Smelter in Australia, and the Juruti Mine in Brazil) developed draft plans during the year. Our global biodiversity team will provide expert advice and support to these and the other locations as they develop their plans.

 

Biodiversity Action Plan Implementation
Percent completed at key locations
Goal: 100%Progress: As of Dec. 2013 
0%
Three plans, or 9%, were in draft phase at the end of 2013.
Rehabilitated Jarrah Forest

Rehabilitated jarrah forest in Alcoa’s Australian mining area

 

In Western Australia, we have made significant progress on some biodiversity actions. We mine in the state’s northern jarrah forest, a unique forest ecosystem within a region recognized as one of 25 global biodiversity hotspots. The area is home to unique flora and fauna, some of which are listed as threatened.

 

As part of the draft biodiversity action plan for this mining location, we developed and implemented initiatives in 2012 and 2013 to understand and mitigate potential mining impacts on threatened fauna species, including three species of endangered black cockatoo.

 

Our biodiversity initiative involves identifying and mapping critical nesting habitat for these birds and protecting nest trees during infrastructure development and mining to prevent impacting these species. Nest trees are, on average, 230 years old, since it takes centuries for a suitable-sized hollow to develop. At the end of 2013, we had protected more than 30 significant nest trees.

 

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo

Female forest red-tailed black cockatoo sits at the entrance of a nest.

In 2013, we decided not to pursue certain ore resources to protect, and provide a buffer to, a significant breeding and roosting site for all three species of black cockatoo. This area has an unusually high concentration of nest trees and was used extensively throughout 2012 and 2013 by breeding birds. Protection of this significant area will ensure the birds continue to have breeding habitat during and after mining.

 

In Juruti, Brazil, we have been working with Conservation International since 2007 to protect and link biodiverse areas of the Amazon forest where we operate our bauxite mine.

 

Impacts on Biodiversity

Alcoa operations can affect biodiversity in several ways.

 

Our mining activities, although often limited to relatively small pits where bauxite exists, can affect a region because the pits must be connected by haul roads or conveyors. We work successfully to prevent the isolation of wildlife and the disruption of stream flows. We also maintain vegetation cover and the quality and quantity of both surface and groundwater. Our Western Australia operations have extensive programs around the management of soil erosion, weeds, feral animals, and forest pathogens to minimize impacts on biodiversity.

 

We are adopting such programs in other locations, including Juruti, Brazil, and Paramaribo, Suriname. A key objective at our mines is to minimize the footprint of disturbed land by implementing a program of progressive land rehabilitation. We use a similar progressive rehabilitation program for the surface of our bauxite residue storage areas.

 

Large process-water lakes and bauxite residue storage areas that are used at our refineries can contain highly alkaline water and be attractive to migrating birds, causing them injury if they land on these areas. Where applicable, we use various techniques to discourage the birds from using these bodies of water. These include cover systems, the construction of freshwater ponds, and visual and acoustic deterrents.

 

At our smelters, we control air emissions, such as fluoride, to protect vegetation and grazing animals in close proximity. We have sampling, monitoring, and control programs in place at all major sources of these emissions to ensure that the impacts on the environment are acceptable.

 

Our facilities use water from streams, lakes, and catchments, as well as groundwater. We take action, such as controlled releases and drainage control, to ensure that this water and the wastewater discharged from our processes do not affect biodiversity.

 

Our mining operations can alter rainfall runoff patterns and surface and ground water hydrology. We monitor and manage these situations to preserve biodiversity. For example, frequent monitoring of more than 50 stream locations within our mining lease in Western Australia has revealed negligible impacts from mining activities on stream quality and biodiversity.

 

We have performed extensive studies of the potential impacts on surface water quality and hydrology at a proposed mining site on the Nassau Plateau in Eastern Suriname. We are developing strict mitigation measures with input from a team of worldwide technical experts.

Alcoa Fjardaál

The Alcoa Fjardaál Smelter in Iceland is powered by hydroelectricity.

 

Our use of hydroelectric facilities to generate power can also have effects on biodiversity. When the reservoirs and water releases are properly managed, the effects can be positive. These include maintaining water flow and temperature within proper ranges to support indigenous fish populations and the vegetation and insect populations upon which they may depend, as well as protecting and managing forested watersheds and lakes for biodiversity conservation and community use.

 

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are benefits obtained from natural ecosystems. These may be goods or raw materials, such as food, timber, or freshwater. They also may be services carried out by ecosystems, including climate regulation, erosion control, and disease control. A company can both benefit from ecosystem services as well as impact them, and these may be seen as either risks or opportunities to the company.

 

Awareness of these concepts is still emerging, and we have been following the development and deployment of the World Resources Institute/World Business Council for Sustainable Development Corporate Ecosystem Services Review tool.

 

There are many situations where ecosystem services benefit our business. These include the provision of essential water supplies for our operations; management of forested land in our hydropower watersheds; reclamation of mined land by providing seeds of native plants, naturally re-colonizing microorganisms, flora, and fauna; and restoration of ecosystem processes, such as nutrient, carbon, and water cycles, that ensure long-term success.

 

Protecting biodiversity and the essential ecosystem services linked to it are key environmental objectives.

 

Environmental Impact Assessments

Prior to constructing new facilities or expanding existing ones, Alcoa engages external consultants to conduct an environmental impact assessment to determine what, if any, effects the project would have on the environment.

 

This thorough analysis documents the level of ecosystem and species diversity within their area of influence using expertise and techniques, procedures, and information generally accepted by the international scientific community as a leading practice. Measures to minimize adverse impacts on ecologically significant ecosystems or species are identified and incorporated into the detailed design of the planned facilities. Particular attention is given to the conservation of threatened species, critical habitats, and unique floral and faunal communities.

 

Case Studies
Jamaica Bauxite Conveyor Eliminates Emissions, Generates Green Energy

 

Related Links

Alcoa Brazil Environmental Parks

 

Mine Rehabilitation

During 2013, we continued to make progress in monitoring and reducing our collective mining footprint to the minimum required for efficient resource recovery.

 

We are reducing or eliminating legacy mined areas; challenging each of our mining operations to work toward the minimum footprints for active mining and supporting infrastructure that were agreed to in 2012; sharing best practices across our operations; and actively tracking and reporting upon progress.

 

Company-wide, our current target is to reduce the active mining footprint to approximately 4,400 hectares (10,900 acres) by 2020. This target is adjusted annually and has increased slightly from 2012 due to a reevaluation of operational requirements at our Juruti Mine in Brazil that occurred in 2013. At the end of 2013, we had 15,138 hectares (37,407 acres) of open mine area.

 

The aggressive target is based on current production forecasts and does not include data from the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) Mine in Guinea, in which we are a minority partner. Our joint venture bauxite mine at Al Ba’itha in Saudi Arabia, which began infrastructure development in 2013 and will be formally commissioned in 2014, is also not included in the target.



An exhausted mining area at Poços de Caldas in Brazil shows significant vegetation just 15 months after rehabilitation.

 

We will review and modify the target as necessary to reflect significant changes in production, as well as other operational concerns.

 

In addition to mining activities, mine infrastructure (e.g., haul roads, crusher sites, rail lines, load-out facilities, and ports) represents a significant component of our overall impact at many operations. During 2013, we drafted long-term infrastructure (LTI) strategic management plans for each of our mining locations as appropriate and will finalize them in 2014. We also initiated a largely volunteer program in Suriname to address rehabilitation and/or the handover of the LTI in accordance with that location’s draft strategic plan.

 

Our strategic sustainability targets, initially developed in 2009, have been key drivers toward the minimum footprints:

  • By 2020, achieve a rolling five-year company-wide ratio of 0.75:1 for new active mining disturbance to rehabilitation; and
  • By 2030, maintain a ratio of 1:1 to ensure no net expansion in new disturbance (i.e., achieve a footprint-neutral condition).

 

Our mine rehabilitation team, which tracks compliance with the targets, conducted quarterly meetings in 2013 to update progress against plan for every mining operation. The team also increased the sharing of best practices and state-of-practice information across our global operations to transfer relevant technology.

 

At the end of 2013, each mine provided actual data for the current year and projections through 2018 to facilitate the review of progress against the goals. In conjunction with this review, some of our mining operations undertook more in-depth inventories of their open lands. Others have made significant progress in both reducing their current footprint and making aggressive projections for further reductions over the next five years.

 

Willowdale Mine

Willowdale Mine rehabilitation in Western Australia

Overall new disturbance, including new active mining areas and new infrastructure development, totaled 1,463 hectares (3,615 acres) in 2013. Our Western Australia mines accounted for 886 hectares (2,189 acres) of that total. Company-wide, rehabilitated land totaled 1,140 hectares (2,817 acres) in 2013.

 

Based on actual data from 2010 through 2013, combined with projections for the following two years, we believe that our company-wide five-year average ratio will be 1.08:1 by 2015. This is a continued improvement on past performance and, in conjunction with the progress toward minimum footprint, puts us on a path to meet or exceed the 2020 sustainability target of a 0.75:1 ratio.

Moengo Mines

Rehabilitation at the Moengo mines

 

The lowest five-year ratio for any of our active mines is projected to be 0.58:1 for the Moengo mines in Suriname, and we anticipate minimal future disturbance at these mines through 2015. We are engaged in an aggressive campaign to rehabilitate their legacy disturbance, some of which dates back to near the start of Surinamese mining operations in 1916. Through 2013, almost 350 hectares (865 acres) of previously mined land in the area have been rehabilitated.

 

We acquired significant mining assets from BHP Billiton Maatschapij Suriname (BMS) in 2009, adding approximately 6,000 hectares (14,826 acres) to the open mine land inventory for our Suralco operations in that country.

 

The ratio for the 2010 to 2014 period at our Anglesea Mine (coal) in Australia is projected to be 0.65:1. Anglesea renewed its mining license in the Anglesea Heath for another 50 years in 2012.  The current mining plans are under development, and projections can only be made through 2016.

 

Other active mines with ratios projected to be approximately at or below 1:1 for the same five-year cycle are the Friendsville Mine (coal) in Illinois, USA; the Poços de Caldas Mine in Brazil; and Jamalco’s mines in Jamaica. 

 

Our Juruti Mine in Brazil, which has an expected life of more than 80 years, began to disturb areas for operations in 2008 and has shown mine land disturbance/mine rehabilitation ratios typical of a new mining start. The near-term mine plan at this location anticipates deeper bauxite deposits, which has resulted in a corresponding increase in open area for the foreseeable future. As a result, the ratio of disturbance to rehabilitation for Juruti from 2010 through 2014 is now expected to be approximately 2.7:1. 

 

Since 2012, the Juruti Mine has adopted the practice of using mined-out pits as disposal lakes to capture the sediments from the bauxite beneficiation facility. While this will serve to limit the overall area of disturbance, it also means that a number of the pits will not be available for rehabilitation as quickly.

 

The Willowdale and Huntly mines in Western Australia are projected to be at ratios of 1.28:1 and 1.60:1, respectively, for the 2010 to 2014 period. They are working to increase the area of rehabilitation following some significant modifications in their operations over the past few years that have resulted in an increase in open area. For example, the Huntly Mine, which is our largest bauxite mine, constructed a new crusher site in 2012 while the existing site continued to operate fully. This commitment of additional land to infrastructure also increased our net disturbed areas.

 

Inactive mines with significant ongoing rehabilitation include our Arkansas Operations in the United States, as well as some other mines in Suriname.

 

For the CBG Mine in Guinea, we have been unable to conclude discussions relative to adoption of Alcoa’s aggressive targets to minimize disturbance. As such, we have again elected not to include CBG mine statistics in our 2013 reporting. However, we continue to work closely with our partners to provide technical support and encourage sustainable mining and rehabilitation practices.

Mining Land Disturbed/Land Rehabilitated
Hectares
  Open Mine Area
Cumulative as of Year-end
Area Disturbed
Annual

Area Rehabilitated
Annual

2009 15,495 1,244 627
2010 16,488 2,087 985
2011 14,960 1,484 1,027
2012 14,815 1,104 1,197
2013 15,138 1,463 1,140
Open Mine Area
Hectares
  Asia Australia Europe/Africa North America South America Total
2009 0 3,227 1,734 649 9,885 15,495
2010 0 4,111 2,109 1,088 9,180 16,488
2011 0 4,592 0 1,094 9,274 14,960
2012 0 4,468 0 1,091 9,256 14,815
2013 0 4,562 0 1,248 9,328 15,138
Area Disturbed for Mining and Associated Infrastructure
Hectares
  Asia Australia Europe/Africa North America South America Total
2009 0 795 76 0 373 1,244
2010 0 1,293 81 343 370 2,087
2011 0 1,169 0 84 231 1,484
2012 0 680 0 94 330 1,104
2013 0 890 0 268 305 1,463
Area Rehabilitated
Hectares
  Asia Australia Europe/Africa North America South America Total
2009 0 490 20 6 111 627
2010 0 409 60 336 180 985
2011 0 686 0 79 262 1,027
2012 0 804 0 97 296 1,197
2013 0 796 0 111 233 1,140

 

Rehabilitation Approach

The material excavated in our mining operations is typically made up of several layers that include topsoil (surface soil), overburden, and bauxite ore. The topsoil is an important resource, as it contains the seed and nutrient reserves essential for successfully establishing a sustainable vegetative cover following mining. The overburden also may contain valuable nutrients. 

 

Overburden and any rock removed to access the bauxite ore are generally returned to the mine pits. Wherever possible, any removed topsoil is moved to landscaped areas over pits that have been recently filled—a process called progressive rehabilitation. In some situations, it is not possible or practical to return all of the overburden to a mine pit. In these cases, the overburden is stockpiled, and the stockpile areas are rehabilitated.

 

In certain locations, overburden containing naturally occurring sulfide minerals has the potential to release low pH (acidic) water with elevated salinity and metals concentrations when exposed to air. Some clay overburden materials exhibit these characteristics, and we manage this material to prevent the potential release of acid and metals by selective handling, which may include encapsulation or sub-aqueous (underwater) cover.


Where relatively extensive mining operations are carried out in natural habitats, rehabilitation of the disturbed land will, in many instances, focus upon the return of the pre-existing floral and faunal communities. Such rehabilitation aims to restore the broadest practicable genetic base using only local species and provenances wherever possible.

 

Farmer tends to crops on rehabilitated land

A farmer tends to crops planted on rehabilitated mine land in Jamaica.

Mining also takes place on agricultural land, such as in Jamaica and Suriname, and degraded natural landscapes, as in Guinea. At these locations, rehabilitation objectives aim to restore pre-existing land uses or establish alternative land uses that meet the expectations of local stakeholders. An example of this is the establishment of cashew nut and firewood plantations in Guinea on land that was previously used for transient, low-grade grazing. This supports sustainable development in the region.

 

Because biodiversity preservation is a major focus of the rehabilitation process, it is always a major component of any future land-use decisions or rehabilitation plans. To determine the biodiversity of our rehabilitated land, we routinely monitor tree establishment and growth, understory density and diversity, seed production rate, litter density, and other parameters to determine the health of the vegetation. We also conduct periodic fauna re-colonization surveys, including ones on birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates, for important groups of organisms. These include spiders (predators), ants (seed dispersal agents), and springtails and mites (active in leaf breakdown and nutrient recycling). In addition, we conduct extensive studies on surface water volumes and quality, as well as groundwater levels, productivity, and quality.

Marrinup Nursery

Alcoa’s Marrinup Nursery in Australia produces plants for the mine rehabilitation program in the region.

 

One of our most advanced mine rehabilitation and biodiversity management programs is at our Western Australia bauxite mines, where our key biodiversity performance target is to reestablish the same level of plant species richness in rehabilitated areas as exists in the un-mined jarrah forest. To measure this, we monitor the number of indigenous plant species present when the rehabilitated areas are 15 months old.

 

Many strategies are applied to maximize the number of species we re-establish in rehabilitated areas. In addition to returning fresh topsoil, we broadcast collected and specially treated seeds and plant nursery-grown plants from seeds, cuttings, and tissue culture. Cuttings and tissue culture propagation are used for species that generally don’t produce much, or any, viable seeds and reproduce vegetatively in the wild.

 

Our Juruti Mine continues to innovate in the area of topsoil placement and rehabilitation. Most recently, it has utilized the nucleation technique, which relies on locally adapted plants and animals colonizing micro-environments. This natural approach to rehabilitation is resulting in a more rapid and effective restoration of the disturbed areas.

 

Juruti Mine

Topsoil placed in mounds aids in rehabilitation at the Juruti Mine.

These micro-environments are created by placing topsoil in mounds to create an undulating topography. This traps surface water and controls runoff in an area that sees an average of more than 300 millimeters (12 inches) of rain during each of the wet season months of January through May. Other aspects of nucleation include managing organic residue, such as tree stumps and brush piles, and creating specific shelter areas for wildlife and birds.

 

The mine also has restored 174 hectares (430 acres) of land using plant material from the topsoil and bush branches that were cleared prior to mining to successfully facilitate re-growth of native vegetation. In addition, it has planted 360 Brazilian nut (Bertholletia excelsa) seedlings, which provide an income source to surrounding communities and enable opportunity for forest preservation on their own lands.

 

From November 2010 to August 2012, the mine undertook a pilot project to examine whether larger equipment could be used effectively in overburden removal to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. The mine continues to use this overburden handling technique. Through the end of 2013, this has resulted in a savings of almost US$700,000 and a net calculated reduction of about 3,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.

 

In Suriname, our Suralco operations continue to develop an integrated closure planning (ICP) framework to facilitate viable and sustainable future land use. The framework involves significant upfront investigation to obtain data on topics that include demography, physiography, existing infrastructure, geotechnical aspects, environmental conditions, governmental development plans, and land use trends. We also have developed a number of tools to support the framework, including a preliminary land use viability assessment tool called PLUVAT; a reforestation index; decision tree pathway analysis; and a detailed framework for stakeholder engagement.

 

We will complete closure plans for three pilot sites—one in each of the mining districts in Suriname—during 2014 and expand the program to include two additional mines. Once the pilots are completed, Suralco will finalize the ICP framework and apply it to other mine sites. 

 

Our expertise in biodiversity management, mine rehabilitation, and land remediation at a number of global locations has been recognized at state, national, and international levels. In 2013, the Suralco ICP framework was presented at the international Mine Closure 2013 Conference in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

 

Stakeholder Engagement

A major component of any mine land rehabilitation program or alternative land-use decision is the dialogue with stakeholders to ensure their inputs are fully considered. The Alcoa Community Framework outlines the essential processes for our locations to identify relevant issues and engage in open and transparent dialogue with stakeholders to evaluate all perspectives in an effort to agree on the directions and approaches.

 

Our stakeholder processes in mine areas that have been operational for decades, such as our Huntly Mine, are very mature. At these mines, stakeholders are actively involved in reviewing alternatives for restoration or other uses and contribute significantly to the ultimate decisions. In our newer mine areas like Juruti, where stakeholder processes are still in the maturing stages, we work to develop appropriate stakeholder knowledge and experience to enable full and fair engagement in, and review of, various alternative uses.

 

The development of the ICP framework in Suriname during 2011 and its piloting at three sites has included the development and implementation of stakeholder engagement plans. Components include:

  • Presentations to various stakeholder groups, including tribal councils, representatives of plantation owners; members of the public interested in using land for recreational pursuits and agriculture, and governmental officials at various levels;
  • Identification of issues and responses for each project;
  • Numerous face-to-face meetings with local communities and their leaders; and
  • The establishment of communication and training opportunities for governmental bodies. The Suriname Bauxite Institute (BIS) has been engaged as a partner in the process. 

 

The initial rounds of stakeholder engagement for the pilot sites in Suriname concluded in late 2012 with the assessment of potentially viable land uses. Development of conceptual closure plans and further stakeholder engagement occurred throughout 2013, and the initial group of closure plans will be completed in 2014. 

 

Although some believe that rehabilitation of mine areas to pre-existing conditions is always the preferred restoration approach, in developing regions it is critical to assess alternative uses that may contribute more substantially to regional sustainable development. For instance, some stakeholders believe that restoration to forest conditions is always the preferred alternative. Other stakeholders, including many in government, prefer to maintain mine haul roads as future access roads and to restore mined areas to facilitate development opportunities in the region, such as residential, commercial, or industrial developments. 

 

In Suriname, our use of PLUVAT has been key to discerning alternative rehabilitation approaches and presenting them to the various stakeholder groups to solicit feedback.

 

Successful stakeholder engagement ensures open dialogue among stakeholders who may hold opposing views and a process to resolve differences and find solutions that can be acceptable to all stakeholders.

 

Impact on Indigenous Peoples

Our operations with the most direct impact on indigenous peoples are in Australia, Brazil, Guinea, and Suriname.

 

In Australia, we have developed a number of key partnerships with indigenous groups, including the following:

 

We have interfaced with the traditional community of Juruti Velho, located at Vila Muirapinima, since the inception of our Juruti Mine in the Brazilian Amazon. Juruti Velho has a population of approximately 9,900 people (21% of the overall municipality of Juruti) and encompasses 56 communities located around Great Lake at the foot of the Capiranga Plateau, where we started mining bauxite ore in 2009.

 

Since 2008, Alcoa, INCRA (land tenure authority), and ACORJUVE have established a negotiation process on land use for mining and community. ACORJUVE is the formal organization that represents the Juruti Velho community, including landowner rights. From mine startup in October 2009 through December 2013, we paid approximately US$9.76 million in royalties to ACORJUVE. 

 

The negotiations and a study to propose parameters, concepts, and methodologies to assess compensation were ongoing in 2013, with the latter expected to be finalized in 2014. Both processes require multiple consensus meetings among community leaders, public authorities, and Alcoa.

 

Case Studies

Juruti Mine Lessens Impact in Amazon through Innovation

Rooting Sustainability into the Mine Planning Process

Texas Mine Reclamation Project Prepares Land for Productive Use

 

Remediation

We currently manage remediation projects around the world. Some of these are at locations that have been in continuous operation for more than 100 years, with many of the issues occurring before the potential for environmental contamination was clearly understood.

 

Many of the projects are at locations that are no longer operational but were once operated by Alcoa or a predecessor company or have since been sold to other companies where Alcoa retained the environmental liability.

 

Some of the historical practices in use at these locations over the years, although legal and acceptable in their time, have resulted in contamination of soil, sediments, and/or groundwater. Today, we devote significant resources and an average of US$25 million annually to manage these sources of contamination.

 

We take a science-based approach to the remedial process. We first determine if, and to what extent, contamination exists. We then apply remedial techniques to manage the risks posed by the contamination to human health and the environment or to eliminate the problem.

 

Our remediation process includes the following specific steps:

  • Determine that there is a known or suspected problem;
  • Identify the nature and extent of the problem;
  • Determine the risks to human health and the environment;
  • Identify the requirements to achieve compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and Alcoa standards;
  • Evaluate the various remedial alternatives to address identified risks;
  • Engage internal and external stakeholders, where necessary, in the selection of an appropriate remedial alternative; and
  • Implement the remedial technique and, where necessary, continue monitoring and managing.

 

The primary objective of any remediation project at Alcoa is the protection of human health and the environment. There are challenges in meeting this goal, as we must first collect sufficient information using sound scientific assessments to understand the nature of the environmental condition. Another challenge is identifying remedial solutions that are protective, feasible, and economically sound. The third and possibly greatest challenge is balancing multiple needs, desires, and expectations within Alcoa, the community, and regulatory authorities while keeping science as the driver in selecting a remedial approach. The identified risks ultimately must be addressed to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders.

 

Undoubtedly, eliminating the need for remediation by avoiding situations that would cause contamination is the best approach. For current operations, we aggressively manage environmental issues through comprehensive environmental management plans and more than 16 Alcoa-developed mandatory environmental standards that relate to proper management of wastes. Before a new process or equipment is developed or used, it must undergo an environment, health, and safety review. These are just a few of the steps we are taking to prevent future problems.

 

Case Studies
Remediation Project Creates Portal to Job Creation in Washington

 

Facility End of Life

Dealing appropriately with closed facilities means actively working to develop an end-of-life strategy that benefits the community and positions the facility to be reused or redeveloped. Perhaps even more important than during the operational phase of a facility, end-of-life activities require an active and engaged process that brings the right stakeholders to the table to ensure open and broad dialogue and that all ideas regarding remediation and future land use are fully considered.

 

Our principal objective is to help retain the strength and viability of the local and regional community following the closure of manufacturing operations. We recognize the significance of many of our locations to the health and prosperity of the community, and we seek to develop and nurture other opportunities for economic prosperity as we are considering the closure of our operations. Repurposing our facilities to accommodate alternative uses that will support the community is one of our highest considerations. We also may make a grant commitment to the affected community.

 

Our objective is to develop a management plan for every operating location. Currently, plans exist only for those operations that are close to the end of their operational lives. In 2013, 10 of our locations had such plans in various formats.

 

We also finalized an asset management policy in 2013 that covers the entire plant life cycle, including planning for end of life. The policy will be implemented across our operations over the next five years.

 

We evaluated a number of curtailed facilities in 2013. Some were able to be reused as industrial facilities and were sold, including locations in the City of Industry, California, and Auburn, Indiana in the United States. For others, we decided that their highest and best use was not compatible with the existing facility, and we proceeded to demolish plant buildings and structures.

 

Real estate and construction markets in Europe remained severely depressed throughout 2013, but there were signs of recovery in the United States. In these environments, we continued our initiatives to repurpose and redevelop our portfolio of closed facilities. By performing this work now, these locations will be well-positioned for new employment and investment once their local economies rebound. In addition, we continued to incorporate lessons learned from our decommissioning activities into the design of new facilities so they can be more easily reused or demolished at the end of their lives.

 

In Swansea, Wales, we continued our investment to position our former manufacturing facilities as an industrial park and employment area. In 2013, we worked with numerous consultants who were developing the regional local development plan. Through a process directed by the local planning authority, our former facility was included in one of three major mixed-use regeneration areas in Swansea. This designation will bring future public investment in infrastructure. We were also able to lease additional areas to various industrial users who have brought jobs and capital into the community.

 

We permanently closed our smelter in Fusina, Italy, in June 2013. We performed a highest- and best-use study and are working with regional stakeholders to evaluate how that portion of the site could support new employment. Work to remove materials and aluminum-specific equipment in the potroom will continue in 2014. 

 

In 2013, we completed the process to repurpose the former Alcoa Fastening Systems & Rings’ location in the City of Industry, which closed in 2006. This 1.0-hectare (2.5-acre) site was contaminated with process chemicals, which we successfully remediated. We satisfied our obligations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for groundwater issues under a consent decree, and we received a “no further action” letter from the local water board for soil issues. These agreements limited future liability at the site, making it possible to attract new users. In December 2013, we closed on the sale of the location to a furniture manufacturer.  

High School Under Construction

High school under construction

 

At our Tennessee Operations in Alcoa, Tennessee, USA, we have an agreement with a development group to redevelop our former 162-hectare (400-acre) West Plant into a mixed-use town center that combines residential, commercial, and office space. In 2013, Alcoa and the development group sold 18.5 hectares (45.6 acres) of the site to the city of Alcoa, which has begun construction of a new high school on the site. 

 

In January 2012, we announced the permanent closure of the smelter at our Tennessee Operations, which had been curtailed since 2009. We completed removal of the smelter potlines in June 2013 and began implementing more than US$5 million in capital projects to reroute utilities and separate the former smelter from our still-operating can reclamation facility at the site. We also commenced the overall decommissioning of the plant. We now have more than 80 hectares (200 acres) of land zoned as heavy industrial that we will continue to prepare and market for redevelopment.

 

Habitat for Humanity Home

Habitat for Humanity home

We donated seven residential lots totaling 0.65 hectares (1.61 acres) near our Tennessee Operations to Blount County Habitat for Humanity in June 2013. The nonprofit organization has subsequently constructed seven single-family houses on the lots.

 

In 2013 in Badin, North Carolina, USA, we signed a second tenant to join Electronics Recyclers International, Inc. at our former smelter site, which is now known as the Badin Business Park. We continue to talk with other companies interested in locating to the park.

West Badin Home

One of two homes constructed in West Badin.

 

We donated two residential lots in the West Badin community to the Stanly County Habitat for Humanity in 2012. The organization constructed two homes on the lots in 2013, and both have first-time homeowners living in them.

 

In Frederick, Maryland, USA, we continued removing our former smelting facility as part of a multi-million-dollar project to position the approximately 890-hectare (2,200-acre) location as a mixed-use development. Final concrete removal and site grading also continued and has been designed to allow maximum flexibility to plan and redevelop the site.

 

Case Studies
Remediation Project Creates Portal to Job Creation in Washington