Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro ASA announced this week that it has teamed up with Wave Aluminium to build a plant in Brazil for recovering marketable materials from bauxite ore residue.
The plant will be built on the campus of Hydro’s Alunorte refinery in Brazil. Hydro says the plant is expected to be able to process up to 50 thousand metric tons of bauxite residue each year. The processing facility could ultimately expand to 2 million to 4 million metric tons per annum.
The proprietary technology, which was developed and patented by Wave Aluminium has proven to work in a laboratory setting but has yet to be utilized at a large scale. The project is part of Hydro’s wider plan to use at least 10 percent of its bauxite residue by 2030 and eliminate the need for new bauxite residue storage facilities by mid-century.
John Thuestad, Executive Vice President for Hydro Bauxite & Alumina, said in a press release that the project helps reduce the company’s overall environmental impact.
“We are working hard to minimize the impact of our operations. We have already eliminated the need for permanent storage of bauxite tailings in the bauxite mine, using a pioneering technology called Tailings Dry Backfill, where bauxite tailings are dried and brought back to the mined out areas prior to rehabilitation. I am excited to get the bauxite residue processing plant in operation at Alunorte, further reducing the environmental footprint of our operations.”
Gustavo Emina, CEO of Wave Aluminium, was quite optimistic about the project.
“The preliminary results are highly promising and indicate a revolutionary scenario for the global aluminium industry when converting residue into products.”
Norsk Hydro, which was founded in 1905, financed by the Swedish Wallenberg family and French banks, began its life named Norsk hydro-elektrisk Kvælstofaktieselskab (literally, “Norwegian hydro-electric nitrogen limited”) by Sam Eyde. The Norwegian government owns approximately 40% of the company at the present time. Norsk Hydro is one of the largest aluminium companies in the world, with plants in Rjukan, Raufoss, Vennesla, Karmøy, Høyanger, Årdal, Sunndalsøra, and Holmestrand. Norsk also has several plants abroad.