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Bauxite residue is generated after the bauxite ore has been processed to obtain alumina, the main raw material in aluminium production. Large quantities of bauxite residue are generated globally every year and permanently stored.

“We are working hard to minimize the impact of our operations. We have already eliminated the need for permanent storage of bauxite tailings in the bauxite mine, using a pioneering technology called Tailings Dry Backfill, where bauxite tailings are dried and brought back to the mined out areas prior to rehabilitation. I am excited to get the bauxite residue processing plant in operation at Alunorte, further reducing the environmental footprint of our operations,” says John Thuestad, Executive Vice President for Hydro Bauxite & Alumina.

Using a new combination of disruptive technologies, the planned bauxite residue processing plant will initially have the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of bauxite residue per year. The new technology has proved successful in laboratory scale tests and will turn bauxite residue into a resource.

“The preliminary results are highly promising and indicate a revolutionary scenario for the global aluminium industry when converting residue into products,” says Gustavo Emina, CEO of Wave Aluminium.

The plant will be built at the Hydro Alunorte alumina refinery in Pará, Brazil, and is expected to be in operation by 2024.

The project can potentially be expanded to process 2-4 million tonnes of bauxite residue per year. This project will support Hydro’s target of achieving 10 percent utilization of bauxite residue generation by 2030 and eliminating the need for new permanent storage of bauxite residue by 2050.

The technology used in the bauxite residue processing plant was developed and patented by Wave Aluminium. It will allow different minerals to be separated and converted into commercially viable materials.

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