Hydro and the University of Oslo plan to create a research program connected to Hydro's mining operations in Brazil. The aim is to generate knowledge that can strengthen Hydro's ability to preserve the natural biodiversity of the areas where the company mines bauxite.
On Friday, Anne-Lene Midseim, Hydro's head of corporate social responsibility in Brazil, signed a letter of intent with the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo. This agreement paves the way for the partners to explore possible cooperation with Brazilian universities and to involve masters and doctorate students from both Brazil and Norway in a new research program.
"Our long-term goal is to preserve the natural biodiversity around our mining operations in Brazil with no net loss of animal and plant life. Research-based knowledge is the key to achieving this goal," says Midseim.
Both partners will use the rest of 2012 to develop the program, establish collaborative relationships with leading experts in Brazil and seek funding for relevant projects.
Bauxite mining in Brazil
In 2011, Hydro acquired one of the world's largest bauxite mines, Paragmonias, in the northern part of Brazil. Bauxite is a raw material essential for the production of aluminium, and is extracted from open pit mines. This means that the forests, plants and animals must be removed before mining begins.
Before bauxite in new areas of Paragominas is mined, Hydro biologists carefully investigate the existing animal and plant life. After the bauxite is removed, the open pit is closed, soil layers are refilled and seeds from the original native flora are sown.
Extensive reforestation project
The area where mining activities take place is located in the border zone surrounding the central Amazon, and is characterized by significant deforestation and encroachment from agriculture, farming and forestry.
"Hydro's research shows that there is still significant biodiversity left in the ecological infrastructure in the mining areas, but they are under pressure and are being marginalized. Mining represents an additional strain," says André Fey, Hydro's head of health, safety and environment, and social responsibility.
"Therefore, a strengthening of the ongoing programs will contribute to ensuring future biodiversity in the areas.
He is supported by Hydro's environmental manager Bernt Malme, who notes that Hydro and former majority owner Vale have already established an extensive reforestation project in the mine at Paragominas.
"Right now we are studying an area of Paragominas that will be mined in a few years. So far we have collected seeds from about 200 species in this area. We will use these seeds in our replanting efforts after the mining is completed," says Malme.