BRAVO EIP – A European Innovation Partnership Raw Materials Commitment focused on advanced metal recovery
In spite of increasing global demand for aluminium, the EU’s aluminium sector has lost competitiveness. In 2011, European countries produced 3.2 million tonnes of bauxite out of the 15.5 million tonnes bauxite needed for their alumina production (6.8 million tonnes alumina). A further import of 4.0 million tonnes of alumina was needed to fulfil the demand of the primary aluminium producers in Europe.? Since 2003 ten primary aluminium smelters have closed in the EU, while none have opened or are planned to open. European competitiveness in this sector is imperative to both stabilise and reduce EU dependency on imports, promote production and protect jobs.
In addition to this situation, the safe environmental management of by-products and wastes from aluminium value chain is critical. Alumina and aluminium processing creates a range of waste products, the most significant being:
- Bauxite residue (red mud) from alumina refining which are normally landfilled
- Mercury emissions, which occur through refining operations as mercury naturally occurs in bauxite
- Spent Pot Lining (SPL), the waste produced from aluminium smelting process when the carbon and refractory lining of smelting pots reaches the end of its serviceable life.
In the event of improper disposal of waste residues such as red mud in rivers or lakes, there are fatal environmental hazards. The rain water run off from the red mud landfills increases river and stream water alkalinity which will convert lands into alkali soils when used for irrigation purpose.
In October 2010, approximately 1,000,000 m3 of red mud from an alumina plant near Kolont?r in Hungary was accidentally released into the surrounding countryside in the Ajka alumina plant accident, killing ten people and contaminating a large area. All life in the Marcal river was said to have been “extinguished” by the red mud, and within days the mud had reached the Danube. It is estimated the 5-6 million tonnes of red mud is generated per annum in Europe and the majority of this waste is being landfilled. Currently, some European plants are slated to be closed because their red mud landfills are filled and governments are unwilling to give authorization to build new ones.
A report published in 2010 by the International Aluminium Institute, states that storage volume reduction and revaluation of waste residues is a main strategic goal of the industry (>20% by 2025).
BRAVO believes this represents an opportunity to increase the competitiveness of the aluminium sector in Europe and be at the forefront of resource efficient technologies.
BRAVO EIP focuses on five key project areas:
Al-Ore: Optimising the alumina and aluminium manufacturing process to increase the intrinsic value and recyclability of by-products including red mud. Read more…
Al-Source: Using the red mud by-product as a source of critical raw materials including gallium,
titanium, selium, germanium, dysprosium, cerium (pilot activity). Read more …
Al-Build: Production of construction Raw Materials from Red Mud (pilot activity). Read more…
Al-Chain: Development of a waste residue value chain and synergising the outputs of the Al-Ore, Al-Source and Al-Build. Including research on EU policy aspects and co-operation in the EU aluminium sector. Read more…
Al-Aware: public awareness, acceptance and trust regarding aluminium sector activities and generation and management of red mud. Read more …
In addition to the above outlined collaborative projects of BRAVO, our partners also undertake
significant in-house research in aluminium and residue processing and applicable recovery technologies.