20 July 2022

Plants aplenty as Alcoa marks National Tree Day

More than half-a-million seedlings will be planted across the south-west of Western Australia this winter as part of Alcoa’s mine rehabilitation and community investment programs, a milestone the company is proudly recognising as part of National Tree Day on 31 July.

Greg Mullins resized
Alcoa Plant Production Supervisor Greg Mullins sorts some of the 550,000 native seedlings planted during the company’s mine site rehabilitation program this winter.

The resources company is planting about 550,000 native seedlings as part of its mine site rehabilitation. In addition, about another 100,000 seedlings will be planted by community and environmental partners funded through Alcoa and its global charity the Alcoa Foundation.

Alcoa of Australia President Michael Gollschewski said the plantings were a clear demonstration of the company’s commitment to the environment and the communities near where it operated.

“We’re proud of our world-leading rehabilitation practices and our ongoing support of a range of community projects that help enhance and restore our unique environment,” Mr Gollschewski said. 

Alcoa’s shallow bauxite mining in the Peel and Upper South-West regions is followed soon after by mine site rehabilitation. Mined areas are contoured, the seed-rich topsoil that is removed ahead of mining is returned, more seed is added, as are seedlings of species that do not grow well from seed.

Alcoa Plant Production Supervisor Greg Mullins said the annual seedling planting program involved a team of about 25 and ran throughout June and July.

“Each year we rehabilitate about 550 hectares,” Mr Mullins said. “It’s a big operation and is pretty much non-stop throughout the two-month period – we only stop for lightning or extreme weather conditions.”

Alcoa was the first company globally to achieve 100 per cent plant species richness in rehabilitated mining areas and to date it has rehabilitated 77 per cent of the areas it has cleared in WA.

In addition to its own mine site rehabilitation, Alcoa and its global charity, the Alcoa Foundation, support plantings by various community and environmental groups nearby areas where it operates its bauxite mines and alumina refineries in WA.

This year that support will result in about 100,000 seedlings being planted across the Kwinana, Peel and Upper South West regions of WA as well as along the Swan and Canning catchments.

Alcoa Corporate Affairs Manager Suellen Jerrard praised the work of groups such as Perth NRM, Greening Australia, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, and Birdlife Australia in helping to protect and restore the local environment.

“We are proud to be able to support extensive plantings led by these groups each winter and in many instances have Alcoa employees roll up their sleeves to work alongside community members in making a real, grassroots difference to our precious environment,” Mrs Jerrard said.

“A great example was a multi-group planting we funded and took part in during June where about 2,000 seedlings were planted along the Willow Gardens Foreshore Reserve in South Yunderup.”