The Canadian company Orbite Aluminae Inc. and Veolia Environmental Services, Paris, have signed an exclusive collaborative agreement for the treatment and recycling of “red mud”, which is sludge generated by the Bayer bauxite refining process that produces alumina. The terms of the partnership include the construction of the first plant to treat red mud using Orbite’s patented process.
According to Orbite, red mud is a caustic waste that is difficult to treat because existing purification processes are complicated and expensive. The company says its process for treating Bayer process tailings can recover the entire commercial value of the red mud and can extend the lifespan of Bayer plants.
Orbite provides a range of technologies for companies in the aluminum industry that allow for the extraction of smelter-grade alumina and high-purity alumina, as well as other products such as rare earths and rare metals, from various feedstocks including aluminous clay and bauxite.
“Demand for alumina continues to grow on a global scale, and worldwide stocks of untreated red mud are estimated at nearly three billion metric tons,” says Richard Boudreault, president and CEO of Orbite. “By partnering together, Orbite and Veolia [can] become the global leader in the treatment and recycling of red mud, which is one of the main environmental challenges for the aluminum industry.”
“Our unmatched presence in the waste value chain serves a long-term vision that drives us to build sustainable partnerships such as the one drawn up with Orbite,” says Pascal Decary, senior executive vice president of Veolia Environmental Services. “They are the key to best mining practice and guaranteeing supply that Veolia Environmental Services can bring to meet rising industry demand, which is a major environmental challenge.”