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Environment

Our environmental ambition is to minimize our footprint by proactively managing our impact on biodiversity and by promoting efficient resource and waste management along the value chain.

hands protecting a seedling

All of Hydro’s sites follow our own internal policies and procedures, related to environmental management, supported by comprehensive health, safety and environment (HSE) management systems, audit programs, training and awareness initiatives. In addition, the large majority of our sites are ISO 14001 certified and many have received certification to ASI’s Performance and Chain of Custody standards. 

Hydro's 2030 environment strategy emphasizes our improvement efforts on a number of key challenges that exist in the aluminium industry.

Biodiversity

Impacts on biodiversity can occur throughout the aluminium value chain, as a consequence of land-use change and the release of harmful emissions to air, land and water. It is Hydro’s responsibility to identify and mitigate these potential impacts and ensure that no lasting harm to the environment occurs.

Our most significant impact on biodiversity is at our mine in Paragominas in the state of Pará in Northern Brazil, where the forest is cleared for bauxite mining. A rehabilitation program is currently in place to monitor the local flora and fauna and progressively rehabilitate the mined areas when they are released from operations. The rehabilitation program is being supported by research on biodiversity performed by a consortium of local Brazilian universities in partnership with the University of Oslo and Hydro.

Targets:

Achieve a 1:1 rehabilitation of available mined areas, within two hydrological seasons after release from operations.

Water

Water is a natural resource of critical importance to the planet and to the entirety of Hydro’s value chain, from bauxite mining and alumina refining in Brazil to smelting and energy production in Norway to the downstream processes in Europe, the U.S. and beyond.

Currently, our freshwater withdrawals in water-stressed areas are very low (<1% of Hydro’s total freshwater withdrawal in 2020). In Hydro, we promote responsible water management in our operations and require appropriate treatment of any water discharges to avoid any harm to the environment. Water quality will continue to be a focus for Hydro and we aim to develop a water stewardship approach in our management of water resources.

Waste

Waste is a by-product of the aluminium production process and is generated at all stages of the value chain. Our waste management approach is based on the mitigation hierarchy: finding ways to avoid, minimize and recycle waste rather than sending it to landfill. In 2020, Hydro recycled 32% of its hazardous waste and 60% of its non-hazardous waste, excluding the internal storage of tailings and bauxite residue.

A major contribution to Hydro’s total waste production is related to our mining and refining operations. The mined bauxite must be washed before further processing, which generates tailings that are stored in dedicated tailings dams at our mining operation. Bauxite residue is a by-product of the alumina refining process. This is washed, dewatered and stored in dedicated bauxite residue storage areas.

The production and disposal of hazardous spent pot lining (SPL) waste is a challenge for primary aluminium producers across our industry. In Hydro, we seek to recycle as much of this SPL as possible, and responsibly landfill the rest in a safe and secure way.

Targets:

  • Implement the Tailings Dry Backfill methodology in our mining operations, to eliminate the need for future tailings storage facilities (TSFs).
  • Utilize 10% of bauxite residue output by 2030.
  • Recycle 65% of spent pot lining by 2030

Air emissions

Emissions to air are also a by-product of the aluminium production process and are generated at all stages of the value chain. Key air emissions generated by our operations include fluorides, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and particulates. Emissions to the external environment are minimized through treatment of the effluent gases prior to their release into the environment.

Targets:

 50% reduction in Non-GHG emissions (i.e. SO2, NOx and particulate matter) by 2030, from a 2017 baseline.

 

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