Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC (EGA) will soon begin construction on a plant to convert bauxite residue to usable soil, the first such on Earth.
The pilot plant is the product of five years of research and development between EGA and the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences. The process developed will take toxic bauxite residue generated in the alumina refining process and converts it to safe and usable soil, dubbed “Turba,” which is the Arabic word for soil, within only a few hours.
The UAE has long imported significant amounts of soil due to the arid climate and lack of naturally-occurring usable soil in the region. The reuse of bauxite residue not only solves the problem of the product’s toxicity, it also artificially produces a product that takes natural processes many centuries, and it cuts greenhouse gas emissions generated by the transport of soil from Europe.
Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Global Aluminium, said in a press release that the new process has several advantages for a variety of stakeholders in the region and the industry.
“The productive use of bauxite residue has been a global challenge since the dawn of the aluminium industry more than a century ago. We believe that our Turba process is a breakthrough, and our pilot plant will enable us to learn how to apply it on a large-scale. This and other potential solutions we are developing hold out the prospect of an end to new bauxite residue storage this decade, whilst creating products useful in the UAE.”
EGA will soon break ground on the plant at Al Taweelah in Abu Dhabi. The firm expects the plant to go into operation at some point next year.
Based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Emirates Global Aluminium is an aluminium conglomerate created by the merger between Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL) and Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) in 2013. EGA had an estimated enterprise value of US$15 billion at the time the merger took place. The firm is owned equally by Mubadala Development Company of Abu Dhabi and Investment Corporation of Dubai. Emirates Global Aluminium holds interests in bauxite/alumina and primary aluminium smelting.