New research to aid alumina production
Researchers are developing ways to assist Australia’s alumina industry – one of the nation’s largest, with production over $6b pa – to expand its resource base and improve its productivity and environmental performance. A number of new projects are focusing on key technology needs identified in the Alumina Technology Roadmap released in late 2001.
The Roadmap outlines the technology plan for the alumina industry based upon input from most global alumina companies, research providers and government.
Dr John Farrow of CSIRO Minerals says: “Given that Australia produces a third of the world’s alumina, and has more than $15 billion dollars invested in its seven alumina refineries, there is a strong driver to continually work to improve productivity and environmental performance. This will ensure that the industry remains competitive as well as ensuring on-going community acceptance.”
“Through the Light Metals Flagship initiative we can take a long term approach to tackle some of the major challenges facing the alumina industry, such as the ability to process lower grade bauxite deposits; to improve residue disposal practices; to identify economic uses for the bauxite residue; and to identify ways to mitigate the effect of organic impurities that reduce productivity and contribute to refinery odour,” says Dr Farrow.
“Through the work we are conducting, we can help Australia’s alumina industry remain vibrant well into the latter half of this century,” he says.
Research projects currently underway include:
Organic carbon compounds present in Bayer liquor can cause difficulties during alumina production including slowing the rate of gibbsite precipitation, presenting environmental problems caused by volatile organic carbon and reducing product yield and quality. CSIRO is exploring new methods for removing the organic impurities and producing final oxidation products that can be easily separated from the process stream.
Bauxite Residue: Disposal Sustainability and Re-use Options
The Australian alumina industry currently produces around 30 million tonnes of bauxite residue (red mud) as a by-product each year. Via the Parker Centre and Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing, CSIRO, in collaboration with the university sector (University of Western Australia and Curtin University), is investigating the global impact of current residue disposal practices and re-use options.
8 9334 8020
The Light Metals Flagship is a CSIRO initiative and part of the National Research Flagships program that aims to deliver scientific solutions to advance Australia's most important national objectives. One of the largest scientific initiatives ever mounted in Australia, it aligns closely with the Federal Government's National Research Priorities. The initiative brings together our national research resources to deliver breakthroughs in fields ranging from healthcare to light metals and the environment.