MONTREAL — Canadian
clean tech company Orbite Aluminae Inc. has announced that it has developed a
patented technology that can treat red mud, the most significant waste product
of the traditional Bayer process for aluminum production. The Company says it offers the only ecologically sound and commercially viable alternative to manage
and eliminate these toxic residues.
to the International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium
(ICSOBA), alumina producers generated in 2011 alone more than 100 million tons
of red mud of which only 5% was reused. The rest is stored in ponds and
reservoirs, entailing significant environmental risks. For example, on October
4, 2010, a flood of toxic red mud devastated Hungary after a retaining dyke
ruptured, causing an ecological disaster. India, China, Canada, and Brasil have
also been affected by spills. The environmental and social costs associated
with the Bayer process and global aluminum production have become so high that
several countries now oppose the development of new mining and production
facilities. Orbite’s technology is an ecological and economically viable
solution to this problem.
technology converts red mud into a dry, inert, and most importantly,
environmentally neutral residue that is less than 10% the volume of its
original state. High commercial value products are also recuperated in this
process, including alumina (which can make up 25% of red mud), ultra-pure
hematite (which is what gives the toxic residue its red colour) and magnesium
oxide, as well as rare metal oxides that can have significant residual economic
value. Orbite’s team of engineers has verified these results using red mud
samples with properties characteristic common to those that currently confront
the alumina industry. The Company developed a large-scale industrial process
capable of treating red mud while individually recovering its main components.
now intends to license its technology to producers interested in reducing their
environmental footprint and their risk of contamination, but also in reducing
operating costs and growing their revenues.