Managing Bauxite Residue
Alcoa’s bauxite residue is stored safely in special facilities that meet all applicable regulations as well as Alcoa’s own standards, which often go beyond what is required by regulations. The descriptions below explain the policies and procedures Alcoa follows at our own bauxite residue storage facilities in several locations around the world.
- Differentiation in storage. Bauxite residue, a by-product of alumina production, is safely stored in special facilities that must meet Alcoa’s internal standards, in addition to local, regional and federal standards. We use a variety of technologies at our residue storage facilities, including a washing process and an extensive dust suppression system. Management of these facilities is primarily based on the “dry stacking” or “sloped deposition” technologies.
- Ongoing internal and third-party monitoring. All Alcoa facilities are monitored carefully to ensure that the integrity of the facilities is maintained and kept in compliance with regulations. We have an annual geo-technical inspection of our storage areas by an independent third party professional to ensure the operation is being maintained and operated to high standards.
- Pursuing goals to reduce bauxite residue. While the methods Alcoa employs ensure safe disposal of bauxite residue, we are not content to “leave well enough alone.” Alcoa has aggressive goals for significant reduction in bauxite residue. From a 2005 baseline, our goal is a 20% reduction in bauxite residue land requirements per million metric tons of alumina produced by 2020; and 40% by 2030.
- Testing potential beneficial uses of bauxite residue. In addition, at our industry-leading technology centers near Pittsburgh and in Western Australia, we continually test a number of science-based technologies that use bauxite residue in beneficial ways. The Western Australian Department of Environmental Protection have acknowledged the suitability of a coarse fraction of the residue (Red Sand) for use in a range of construction applications and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has granted Alcoa a beneficial use permit for the use of red mud (Alkaline Clay) to treat stockpiles of acid generating coal mining overburden.
- EHS is a stated value that we live every day. Environment, Health and Safety is not simply an admirable concept at Alcoa. Our EHS performance is tied directly to our management’s incentive compensation. Our work also involves rehabilitating bauxite storage areas for reuse. In Brazil, a former disposal area is now a 64-acre rehabilitated area that supports native trees and vegetation and reemerging animal life.
Aluminum is infinitely recyclable and sustainable. We should not overlook the tremendous sustainability attributes of aluminum. Light, strong and corrosion-resistant, the life-cycle benefits of this metal provide a potentially limitless payback. And aluminum can be recycled infinitely using only 5% of the energy it took to make it originally. That is why Alcoa believes that aluminum is a key ingredient to a sustainable future, and why Alcoa is dedicated to the production and recycling of aluminum in the most responsible manner possible.