Founded in 1965, the municipality of Paragominas, in southeastern Pará, is approaching its 60th birthday as an example of a sustainable city. With economic activities related to livestock, forestry production, among others, the city is also highlighted in the ranking of mining municipalities in Pará and Brazil.
According to the National Mining Agency (ANM), in 2021 Pará was the largest generator of Financial Compensation for the Exploration of Mineral Resources (CFEM) in the country. The ranking of the ten largest mining municipalities in the country in 2021 has only Pará municipalities and Paragominas occupies the sixth position.
“Mining activity here in Paragominas was very well thought out, designed, discussed and planned. In this way, it was very positive for Paragominas and helped the city to grow in an organized way. There was investment in health, social, education, transport and other areas”, comments lawyer Maxiely Scaramussa, author of the book “Paragominas – The experience of becoming a green municipality in the Amazon”.
The extraction of bauxite at Hydro Paragominas completes 15 years in March. The mine, which is the first link in the aluminum chain, is one of the main ones in operation in Pará and has worked to be a great ally in the city's development.
“All the achievements made over these 15 years were the result of the work of thousands of people and of everyone's commitment to the development of Mineração Paragominas and the region. Our objective is to continue investing in operational excellence and innovation and growing sustainably together with the city”, celebrates the Director of Operations at Hydro Bauxita & Alumina, Carlos Neves.
In 15 years, Hydro Paragominas has achieved relevant results in the fields of sustainability and innovation, contributing to the development of the municipality and its operations. In honor of the date, check out fifteen curiosities about the mine.
1. No more new permanent dams
Hydro invested around BRL 30 million to put into operation the “Tailing Dry Backfill” methodology, which is a pioneer in the bauxite mining industry in Brazil. The methodology allows the inert tailings of bauxite mining to be returned to already open and mined areas, instead of being deposited in separate and permanent storage areas. After drying in a temporary deposit for 60 days, the bauxite tailings are returned to the mined areas, before the area is rehabilitated and reforested. The tailings from bauxite mining are chemically and physically similar to what was removed during the mining process. Therefore, it is returned to nature without any impact on the environment. Thus, it provides a significant reduction in the environmental footprint of bauxite mining and more operational safety.
2. Keeping an eye on the weather
Hydro will allocate BRL 200,000 to carry out meteorological and climatological research, over a three-year period, to improve the management of water resources at the bauxite mine in Paragominas. The study is part of an agreement with the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) and aims to make the reuse of rainwater at the unit even more efficient, whose indicator reached 83.3% last year. In practice, the project will allow the company to know the seasonality of rainfall and the impact of global phenomena; have daily, monthly and annual forecasts of rainfall; and assess the probability of occurrence of severe drought in the coming years.
3. Renewable energy
In a scenario where the search for renewable energy sources has been a decisive factor for cleaner and more sustainable operations, Hydro takes an important step in this direction and, also in partnership with UFPA, started studies on the use of solar panels in the mine. The university will carry out tests with a floating photovoltaic system in the Hydro Paragominas water reservoir. One of the main objectives is to make it possible to reduce the evaporation of water from the plant's reservoirs, in addition to offering a new source of energy capable of meeting part of the mine's own consumption. The initial investment in the project is around BRL 1 million and the research will last two years.
4. Partnership for the conservation of biodiversity
Studies being carried out by the Brazil-Norway Biodiversity Research Consortium (BRC), in partnership with Hydro, bring encouraging results. The BRC is formed by the University of Oslo, in Norway, and its Brazilian partners, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, UFPA and Universidade Federal Rural da Amazônia (UFRA), in addition to Hydro. Established in 2013, the BRC was renewed for a further five years in 2017. The consortium maintains a research program connected to Hydro's mining operations. The objective is to invest in research to strengthen conservation strategies for the Amazonian fauna and flora, in addition to generating information to support the improvement of forest recovery processes in bauxite mined areas in Paragominas. The BRC already has 26 projects approved and in progress, engaging around 220 researchers from different academic levels and specialists from different biological groups. The partnership has generated dozens of scientific products (articles, papers, master's dissertations, among others), has already resulted in the discovery of 3 new species of fungi, 1 new species of wasp and 1 of bed bug, in addition to 2 national awards (ABAL and SOBRE) and 1 international (ICSOBA).
5. The first jaguar to receive a telemetric collar in Pará was accompanied by researchers from the BRC
And it was in Paragominas. The jaguar is a four-year-old male and weighs about 45 kg. This is one of the studies carried out in the area of Mineração Paragominas. The project is part of the BRC and the proof of the existence of the largest feline in the Americas in the area of Mineração Paragominas is an important indicator of environmental quality, as the jaguar is at the top of the food chain and needs large areas to survive. Therefore, one of the researchers' goals is to understand how the animals are adapting to a new reality in Hydro Paragominas' areas of influence, which, in addition to forest areas, have more than 2,600 hectares that have already been rehabilitated.
6. From felines to birds
The survey “Bird diversity in three areas in different states of conservation”, started in 2017, found the return of birds in areas in recovery in Paragominas. So far, a total of 228 species were found during the survey. In the evaluated regions, species corresponding to the reforestation stage in which these areas are found were found. The objective of environmental recovery is to restore the elements of the ecosystem according to their successional stage. After eight years of reforestation, species of birds that feed on seeds, fruits or plant parts were found. Another important indicator is the fact that all the species found breed in the place. In the forest areas of Hydro Paragominas, some endangered birds have also been found, such as the Ararajuba. In the case of birds, an excellent indicator of the quality of the remaining forests in the Hydro area is the presence of the harpy eagle, which is at the top of the food chain and has already been found in the native forest area close to the mine. This indicates that the remaining forests in the area are in a good state of conservation and will be fundamental for the process of forest recovery in the area as a source of colonization of bird species and ecological corridors for other groups of native fauna.
7. Return of field research
In February of this year, BRC returned to field activities at Hydro Paragominas after almost two years without going to the field. But the team did not stand still. In 2020 and 2021, there were a considerable number of publications in scientific journals, with more than 30 articles published or accepted for publication. There was also the development of the Strategic Plan of the consortium and a significant increase in the number of students supported by the BRC, both for undergraduate and graduate students, highlighting the importance of the consortium for the institutions involved and for the science developed in the region.
More than 2,600 hectares have already been reforested in the Hydro Paragominas region since 2009. In 2021, a total of about 290 hectares were rehabilitated by the company, of which approximately 45% of the reforestation was carried out with the nucleation technique and 55% with planting traditional. Nucleation consists of the formation of "islands" or vegetation cores with species with the ecological capacity to significantly improve the environment, facilitating the occupation of this area by other species. The species used in the recovery of the areas of Hydro Paragominas are referenced in the inventory made by the company, before the extraction of the ore, with approximately 50 species adaptable to the reality of the region. Among the species, ipê amarelo, maçaranduba, jatobá, copaíba, ingá-de-macaco, sucuuba, paricá, fava bolota have already been planted.
9. Waste reuse
A third partnership signed by Hydro with UFPA has developed research for the reuse of bauxite tailings. The feasibility of using the ore tailings from Hydro's bauxite mine to produce tiles, bricks, refractory materials, low-carbon cement and even a biodegradable plastic is being studied. The waste to be studied in the research is the result of the processing of bauxite, that is, it is just clay, without any chemical additive. The research will last three years and will have an investment of around BRL 500 thousand from Hydro.
10. Diversity and Talent
Odimária Araújo was the first woman to operate a large excavator at the mine and is also the oldest employee of Hydro Paragominas. Odimária completes 15 years of experience at the company, celebrating time with the company along with the mine's own anniversary of operation. She worked on the construction of the pipeline and was invited to participate in the selection and arrived at the mine along with the first pieces of equipment. Today, in addition to her, her son also works at the company, working in the same role. On the other hand, Bruno Cunha, an Environmental Engineer, has been with the company for 3 years and is one of the newest talents at Hydro Paragominas. He is 30 years old and started out as a service provider, and when a vacancy and the opportunity to become effective came up, he applied and was recruited. He highlights the credibility of Hydro Paragominas and its socio-environmental responsibility, in addition to seeing conditions for the growth of his professional career within the company.
11. ASI certification: recognized sustainability
Hydro Paragominas is certified by the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI), an independent audit must verify that the plant operates in accordance with defined international standards related to governance, policy and management, transparency, environment and biodiversity, social issues and labor rights, to to mention a few – as the requirements are extensive. Certification was obtained in June 2019 and was an important milestone that highlights the commitment and efforts to produce aluminum raw materials in accordance with the highest industrial standards of responsibility and sustainability and to deliver certified products to customers and the entire supply chain. aluminum value.
12. Bauxite has more than 1,800 parameters analyzed
The bauxite processing at Hydro Paragominas involves several important steps, such as the extraction of ore in the mine, the removal of undesirable minerals and adjustment of the size of the ore particles to meet the specifications of the mine's beneficiation plant, ore pipeline and the Alunorte refinery, also from Hydro. During this process, a robust quality control is carried out to guarantee the performance and compliance with the specifications of the final product delivered to the refinery, involving more than 1,800 parameters analyzed per year in the laboratory of Mineração Paragominas. Among the analyzes carried out, a simulation of the refining of bauxite stands out, reproducing on a reduced scale the process to which the bauxite will be submitted at Alunorte. This simulation helps in controlling and certifying the quality of the ore in a way that is more adherent to the customer's needs.
13. Hydro Paragominas has an ecological trail!
To demonstrate its environmental control programs and create greater connection with stakeholders, in 2019, Hydro Paragominas created a space for the development of the Environmental Education Program: an ecological trail of 114 meters, which shelters orchids, bromeliads, native forest species of great commercial importance and vulnerable species. When walking along the trail, visitors get to know and see in loco the importance of the main programs for monitoring and conserving the region's biodiversity. It is also possible to observe at the exit of the trail a model with the methodologies applied in the forest recovery. At the support kiosk, visitors receive information about the initiatives and can check the company's historic planting area. These measures contribute to the connection between Hydro Paragominas and its visitors. The trail has already received public authorities, educational institutions, environmental departments and journalists, in addition to direct and outsourced employees.
14. The world's first bauxite pipeline starts in Paragominas
The Hydro Paragominas ore pipeline was the first experience in the world with the transport of ore through a buried pipeline, therefore, the studies and projects were developed with the highest quality standards to meet the specific technical needs of the project, becoming a reference in terms of technology. The method consumes less energy and emits no greenhouse gases. The pipeline transports bauxite from the mine in Paragominas to the Alunorte refinery in Barcarena. It is 244 km long and passes through seven municipalities in the state: Paragominas, Ipixuna do Pará, Tomé-Açu, Acará, Moju, Abaetetuba and Barcarena.
15. Integrated operation
Hydro Paragominas is getting ready to put into practice a new concept of interconnected operation, incorporating the best practices adopted by the market. With the new integrated control room, which is under construction, the work of 11 operational teams will be carried out from a single environment, making the process and dialogue between the different areas more dynamic. The integrated control room will bring together teams from the Plant's operation, Processing, Dispatch, Ore Pipeline, Tailings Pipeline and Geotechnics. The environment was structured with modern equipment to ensure more reliability to the activities and comfort and well-being to the teams. In parallel with the final room adjustments, the teams work on the mobilization plan for the new space. At this stage, the operators of each team carry out the necessary tests on the new equipment to ensure that all the functionalities are in accordance with the quality required for the operation.