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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 management and efficient waste management along the value chain. Hydro's environment strategy emphasizes a number of aspects.

hands protecting a seedling

Biodiversity 

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 rehabilitate the mined areas, with the ambition to achieve no net loss of biodiversity. 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: 

  • Eliminate the historical reforestation gap by 2020 
  • Achieve a 1:1 rehabilitation of areas available for rehabilitation over two hydrological seasons after release. 

Water 

Water is a key 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, we do not operate in areas categorized as water-stressed, but we do measure and report on our water usage. Our main emphasis is on water management and appropriate treatment of wastewater before discharge. 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 aluminum production process and is generated at all stages of the value chain. Our waste management approach focuses on the mitigation hierarchy: finding ways to avoid, minimize and recycle waste rather than sending it to landfill.  

A major part of 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 tailing dams at our mining operation. Bauxite residue, also known as red mud, is a by-product of the alumina refining process. This is washed, dewatered and stored in dedicated bauxite residue storage areas. 

Targets: 

  • 60% reduction in waste-to-landfill by 2020 (2010 baseline). 
  • Recycle > 250,000 tonnes/year of post-consumer scrap by 2020. 

Air emissions 

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

Targets: 

  • Maintain an industry “frontrunner” position (first quartile) when benchmarked against our industry peers 
  • Continuously reduced specific GHG emissions from electrolysis. EU benchmark long term