LONDON Alumina producer Orbite Aluminae Inc. and French waste handler Veolia Environmental Services have signed a collaborative agreement for the treatment and recycling of alumina production wasteotherwise known as red mudusing Orbites patented process.
Montreal-based Orbite last year announced it had discovered a way to produce alumina from red mud after it successfully transformed a combination of red mud and low-grade bauxite into alumina in a laboratory test.
Red mud contains iron, silica, calcium, titanium and aluminum, as well as small quantities of base metals. Only a fraction of globally produced red mud is recycled, with the rest stored in special disposal areas.
"Demand for alumina continues to grow on a global scale, and worldwide stocks of untreated red mud are estimated at nearly 3 billion tonnes," Orbite chief executive officer Richard Boudreault said in a statement. "By partnering together, Orbite and Veolia become the global leader in the treatment and recycling of red mud, which is one of the main environmental challenges for the aluminium industry."
The terms of the partnership include the construction of the first plant to treat red mud.
Moscow-based United Co. Rusal said a year ago that it would build a prototype facility for the recycling of red mud at its Urals aluminum smelter in Russias Sverdlovsk region, planned for launch in October 2014.
In March last year, Rusal signed a memorandum of understanding with Orbite with the aim of forming a joint venture to develop an aluminous clay deposit in Grande-Vallée, Québec, which included the potential for the construction of an alumina refinery.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.