Our goal is to ensure all of our operations—especially our mining activities—are conducted in a manner that minimizes the effects on natural habitats and biological resources.
In 2013, our Juruti Mine in Brazil was one of three Alcoa locations globally to develop a draft biodiversity action plan. The final plan will identify the biodiversity values of the land; pinpoint potential impacts, both positive and negative; develop a management plan; inform and engage our employees and communities where we operate about biodiversity protection; and set and report performance against site-specific targets.
Our global goal is to achieve a footprint-neutral condition in our mining operations by 2030, which means the amount of area disturbed for mining each year will be offset by an equal amount of land rehabilitated.
Overall new disturbance in 2013 at our mines in Latin America and the Caribbean totaled 305 hectares (754 acres), with rehabilitated land totaling 233 hectares (576 acres).
Mining Land Disturbed/Land Rehabilitated
||Open Mine Area
Cumulative as of Year End
Our Juruti Mine is using an innovative rehabilitation technique called nucleation that creates micro-environments using mounds built from the topsoil and forest waste saved from when a mine area was cleared of vegetation. These mounds create an undulating topography that traps surface water, controls runoff, and produces new soil.
The nucleation method helps reduce costs by 40% compared to the traditional rehabilitation method due to decreased topsoil removal and branch disposal. Flora is returning at a rate exceeding projections, with some vegetation and trees that are critical for attracting and maintaining wildlife appearing in the first year instead of the expected third to fifth years. (See related case study.)
In 2013, our Jamalco operations in Jamaica embarked on the development of a biodiversity village, which will be located in a mined out, reclaimed, and rehabilitated bauxite mining pit. The village, which will include a fish pond, walking and exercise trails, a bird sanctuary, and gazebos, will be used for tourism and educational purposes. In October 2013, employees and members of the community planted more than 100 seedlings at the village site as part of Jamalco’s Month of Service and its contribution to Alcoa’s Ten Million Trees program.
The village will join three other environmental parks created and maintained by Alcoa in Brazil. Located at the Poços de Caldas, São Luís, and Tubarão facilities, the parks serve as laboratories for the study of local fauna and flora. They are open for visitation and also serve as a natural classroom for environmental talks, workshops, and university projects.
In Suriname, our Suralco operations continued to develop an integrated closure planning (ICP) framework to facilitate viable and sustainable future land use of closed bauxite mines. The framework involves significant upfront investigation to obtain data on topics that include demography, physiographic, 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 completed closure plans for three pilot sites—one in each of the mining districts in Suriname—during 2014 and expanded the program to include additional mine sites.
The Suralco ICP framework was presented at the international Mine Closure 2013 Conference in Cornwall, United Kingdom.