Water is a precious, shared resource. Our stewardship of it is a fundamental, material issue for our stakeholders and an important element in our sustainability approach.

Water is also a critical raw material in our operations, particularly for ore processing, cooling, casting, dust suppression and potable uses.

Our priorities for water management are outlined in our Water Stewardship Policy. The policy is supported by our Water and Wastewater Management Standard, which is aligned with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Position Statement on Water Stewardship.

We developed our water disclosure and accounting in accordance with ICMM Water Reporting Good Practice Guide, 2nd Edition, which was released in August 2021. We are currently updating our water accounting processes to align with the new ICMM reporting requirements required for disclosure by 2023.

Our total water use in 2021 was 835.1 million cubic meters, which was a 3.7 percent decrease compared to 2020. Our water withdrawal decreased 3.0 percent over the prior year to 840.4 million cubic meters and we recycled or reused 165.8 million cubic meters of water. Our total outputs (discharge and consumption) also decreased by 3.8 percent. Refinement in the water accounting at our Warrick and Juruti operations resulted in a change in the outputs balance between discharge and consumption. Water discharges decreased by 4.2 percent to 778.3 million cubic meters and water consumption increased by 2.3 percent to 56.4 million cubic meters.

Our Alcoa-defined water-scarce locations account for 5.3 percent of Alcoa's total water use with 44.3 million cubic meters used in 2021, a 0.3 percent decrease compared to 2020. Alcoa-defined water-scarce locations recycled 144.9 million cubic meters of water in 2021. High quality water withdrawal as a percentage of total high quality water withdrawn was 3.4 percent, and high quality water consumption as a percentage of total high quality water consumption was 56.4 percent.

2021 Water Balance—All Locations
Million cubic meters

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2021 Water Balance—All Locations
Million cubic meters

We report water quality in accordance with the Minerals Council of Australia’s Water Accounting Framework. Category 1 water is of a high quality and suitable for most purposes with little or no treatment. Category 2 water is of a medium quality and suitable for some purposes, such as irrigation. Category 3 water is of a low quality and suitable for limited purposes without significant treatment. Categories 1 and 2 are equivalent to the ICMM High Quality definition, and Category 3 is equivalent to the ICMM Low Quality definition. Groundwater includes produced water, which is water entrained in ore. In 2021, high-quality water withdrawals were 51.6 percent of total water inputs for Alcoa-defined water-scarce locations. The sum of categories may vary from the totals due to rounding. To convert unit of measure from million cubic meters to thousands of cubic meters, multiply the data by 1,000.

During a review of the 2020 water balance, we made modifications to improve data accuracy. Total Water Outputs remained at 867.4 million cubic meters. Water Discharges changed from 748.8 to 812.3 million cubic meters, and Water Consumption changed from 118.7 to 55.1 million cubic meters. Surface Water remained our highest volume output at 81 percent of total water outputs and 87 percent of total water discharged.
Water Inputs Water Outputs
Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Total Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Total
Surface Water 37.0 681.2 19.3 737.5 7.6 1.6 19.3 28.6
Groundwater 6.6 12.7 3.7 23.1 0.2 12.6 3.3 16.1
Seawater 0.0 0.0 69.6 69.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Third-party Water 2.4 4.8 3.0 10.2 0.8 2.5 1.3 4.7
Evaporation 6.7 10.9 22.8 40.3 6.1 3.8 20.3 30.2
Entrainment 0.0 0.0 16.1 16.1 0.0 0.0 11.5 11.5
Total 10.4 688.6 135.6 834.7 6.4 5.6 31.9 43.8

Case Studies

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