In Europe, around 12 million tons or 84% of the total bauxite ore processed is imported mostly from Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana) and then treated to obtain Aluminium on European soil.
The rest, 2.3 million tons, is mined in Europe, mainly in Greece and to lesser extent in Hungary.
Significant resources of lower grade bauxite do exist in Europe but are not being currently exploited, due to technology and cost reasons. An eventual economical utilisation of those resources, would decrease the need for bauxite imports significantly.
EU extraction of bauxite (aluminium ore) is very limited, approximately 1.5 % of the global total. Hence, the EU is very dependent on imports of bauxite.
EU imports even more metallurgical alumina to cover the demand for the EU smelters.
Challenges in alumina production
4kg of bauxite produces 2kg of alumina and 2kg of residue 2kg of alumina produces 1kg of aluminium Overall, for the production of 1kg of aluminium, 2kg of residue are landfilled
Bayer process: Every year, 120 million tones of bauxite residue is produced
The quality of available bauxite is gradually decreasing. It now has more Fe and less Al
Europe is dependent on imported bauxite and alumina
The ENSUREAL process
The ENSUREAL process is an investment in innovative processes that make the sector more sustainable, from the environmental and economic point of view:
- Less dependent on raw materials i.e. bauxite, as it can recirculate low quality bauxites from the process’ tailings;
- More flexible, as it can use other sources of alumina;
- Environmentally sustainable, as it swaps “red mud” waste for “grey mud”, which is highly valorisable;
- More energy efficient, as it eliminates the need of treating “red mud” (3,5 million € savings in AoG’s case);
The process also is an investment in circular economy, as it integrates the iron and agriculture sectors, as well as taking into account other valorisation routes like the construction sectors and high added value applications of alumina. Besides, other applications related to the construction and fire protection applications will be assessed.