Alumina Limited believes that responsible and ethical management of the business is critical to minimising the impact on the environment, the communities in which AWAC operates and business sustainability.

Energy overview
AWAC is an energy and resource intensive business that primarily mines bauxite ore and refines it into alumina for sale for further processing into aluminium.

The majority of AWAC’s bauxite is mined in open pits in forested areas of Western Australia and Brazil. When a mine is no longer in use, AWAC prioritises rehabilitating mined land to re-establish biodiversity, or converting areas into land that can be farmed or used to improve the quality of life of the local community.

Refer to Alumina Limited’s most recent Sustainability Report.

Emissions overview

The industrial processes required to convert bauxite ore into alumina requires consumption of significant energy to provide the heat and steam necessary for the refining process.

The majority of the energy AWAC’s uses is generated by natural gas, resulting in the emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHG).

AWAC is constantly reassessing its operational efficiency to reduce energy use and the GHG emissions and investigating options for lower carbon energy alternatives.

Refer to Alumina Limited’s most recent Sustainability Report.

Waste overview

The refining of bauxite into alumina results in a significant amount of residue in the form of red mud.

The red mud contains some residual caustic soda and is stored in containment areas which require ongoing, responsible management.

AWAC has developed policies and practices regarding the safe management of the residue and has invested in research to determine if the residue can be used for other purposes.

Refer to Alumina Limited’s most recent Sustainability Report.

Water overview
Management of a sustainable supply of water for the production process is also a focus of AWAC to ensure the sustainability of the business and the protection of this vital resource for the surrounding communities.

AWAC looks for ways to reduce consumption and appropriately manage discharge and the use of secondary sources of water, and increase recycling and other opportunities through advanced technologies.

AWAC’s Kwinana and Pinjarra alumina refineries in Western Australia can reduce their combined freshwater use by up to 2.2 gigalitres annually after investing in the innovative technology of residue filtration.

Refer to Alumina Limited’s most recent Sustainability Report.

Bauxite to aluminium: the process

There are six stages in the bauxite to aluminium process, read more about it here and AWAC's sustainability approach.

  • Impoundment Inventory
  • Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management

Impoundment Inventory

In April 2019 Alumina Limited and Alcoa were two of nearly 700 mining firms worldwide to receive a request from the Church of England Pensions Board and the Council on Ethics Swedish National Pensions Funds requesting specific disclosures on tailings facilities. In response to this request Alcoa provided on their website details of tailings facilities, including non-operated sites. A link to the information can be found here.

The Alcoa response covers all AWAC operations plus operations which are not part of the AWAC portfolio. Alumina Limited has no interest in the assets which are not part of the AWAC portfolio.

Listed below are the operations included in the Alcoa spreadsheet which are NOT part of the AWAC portfolio:

Country Location name
Brazil Pocos
USA Bauxite, AR (Alcoa)
USA Bauxite, AR (Reynolds)
USA Listerhill, AL
USA Sherwin Copano
USA Warrick IN

Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management

AWAC will comply with the Global Industry Standard on Tailings management developed by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The Standard provides an international plan for the safe management of mine tailings storage facilities worldwide.

Alcoa has committed, as part of its membership with ICMM, to be in conformance with the Standard by August 5, 2023 or August 5, 2025 depending on the consequence classification of the facilities.