‘French connection’ will take on aluminum’s ‘red menace’

Feb 11, 2013 | 11:56 AM | Jo Isenberg-O’Loughlin

Tags  Orbite Aluminae, aluminum, alumina, red mud, recycling, Veolia Environmental Services, Richard Boudreault, Jo Isenberg-O'Loughlin

NEW YORK — Is Orbite Aluminae Inc. for real?

On the surface, the multipronged storyline of the can-do, clean-technology company sounds too good to be true. Dig a little deeper, and the bold claims and big promises that have become a trademark of the Montreal-based company’s top management begin to look less like mad science and marketing bluster and a lot more plausible.

Orbite has got what it describes as a viable, eco-friendly technology to turn mega-mountains of hazardous red mud generated by industrial alumina production using the Bayer process into cold cash by recovering the full commercial value of the material’s constituent products and the land it’s sitting on.

On top of that, the company has a potline full of patents or pending protection on 14 families of intellectual properties covering various aspects of its versatile, proprietary hydrochloric acid-based process. Orbite claims the technology produces alumina and other high-value products—including rare earths—using aluminous clay, bauxite, kaolin, red mud and fly ash at among the lowest costs in the industry.

And it’s taken tangible steps to prove it. In mid-December, the company announced it had successfully produced its first tonne of high-purity alumina (HPA) as part of the initial commissioning and testing activities at its commercial-scale HPA production plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec (amm.com, Dec. 18). ....

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