OREANDA-NEWS. February 16, 2012. UC RUSAL (SEHK: 486; Euronext: RUSAL/RUAL; MICEX: RUALR; RTS: RUALR), the world’s largest aluminium producer, is pleased to announce the launch of a new alumina production waste recycling technology test run, which will result in the construction of a prototype facility at the Urals aluminium smelter (UAZ). The facility's recycling capacity is expected to treat up to 200,000 tonnes of red mud annually with its launch planned for October 2014. Investments in the project will amount to RUR 600 million, with a 3-year payback period.

The recycling of alumina production waste is a global problem with only 10% of it recycled, the rest is stored in special disposal areas.

In 2011 RUSAL's engineers in partnership with scientists from UralPromEnergoproject, Institute of Chemistry of Russian Academy of Sciences (Ural Branch) and the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS) conducted a series of research projects on  red mud and its recycling opportunities, including studies on dealkalization, evaporation, concentration and rare element extraction.

The research results will be used to create a prototype red mud recycling facility with 200,000 tonnes annual capacity. Following its launch, UAZ will establish red mud recycling operations, creating a new production market and look to replicate  the technology in other RUSAL subsidiaries. RUSAL's specialists estimate that the potential market demand on the red mud recycle products could be up to 2.3 million tonnes of mud annually.

In 2012 UAZ will use a temporary process solution to supply 3,000 tonnes of dealkalized red mud for iron and steel industry, where soda has been an unwanted impurity for the blast-furnace method.

Viktor Mann, UC RUSAL's R&D Director said: ‘Following the launch of the facility, UAZ will have a real environmentally clean alternative to red mud disposal areas. The corporate programme of the complex wasteless alumina production enables the use of red mud in iron and steel industry with simultaneous extraction of rare elements, primarily scandium. ’

In addition, this innovative recycling technology could be used at Bogoslovsk aluminium smelter, Nikolaev alumina refinery and other overseas alumina refineries in Ireland, Guinea, Australia and Jamaica.