Water is a limited resource in most parts of the world. We tend to think that the situation is more or less the opposite in geographical areas like Norway and the Amazon. The truth is that the situation is not so. Even for a company that has based its existence on water for almost 110 years, there needs to be a systematic focus on water consumption and quality.
“Water is an important resource also in areas where it is abundant. This issue is in our own interest, but we must not forget that the demands of the world around us are increasing, ”says Guiliana Larice of Hydro's corporate Health, Safety and Environment team.
“In a way, the acquisition of bauxite and alumina operations in Brazil transformed the business. With the integration of operations in Brazil, Hydro now needs a much more holistic view of its environmental strategy ”, explains Bernt Malme, head of the corporate environment department.
In addition to the water issue, the agenda includes topics such as biodiversity, reforestation and how to minimize waste, with Hydro setting goals in all these areas.
Larice, who has experience in Kenya, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, says that the greater focus on resource efficiency given by the European Union presents new challenges for industries related to extensive water and waste consumption.
“We are operating under a regulatory framework, which requires more from all companies,” she adds. “With regard to water, we see that the focus is increasingly on quality and quantity - especially the reuse of this resource.”
Hydro uses a lot of water throughout its production chain, since all of its operations have been based on hydroelectric energy since the beginning of the company almost 110 years ago. Today, Hydro's aspiration to have “greener” aluminum production makes the use of renewable energy a necessity.
In Pará, we use water in various cleaning processes and for transporting bauxite along the 244 kilometers of pipeline between Hydro Paragominas and the Hydro Alunorte alumina refinery in Barcarena. Although this water is reused at Alunorte, we still need to be aware of the amount used, since the water resources in the mining area are not unlimited - even though we are in the middle of a tropical forest region.
In other parts of the production chain, especially at Metal Primário and Produtos Laminados, we use water to cool the metal and equipment in all production processes, in addition to also using it for wet sanding, thus reducing part of pollutants that Hydro would have to launch into the air.
“It is not enough that we at Hydro are confident that our operations are not located in areas where water resources are scarce, as we must ensure that water is not wasted anywhere in the world and that let us make a significant impact on its quality - since water is our future. None of this is easy, because water is part of everything ”, explains Larice.