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Environmental Improvement
Plan 2014 - 2016
Contents Overview and acknowledgements

Overview of Alcoa of Australias operations


Air quality and noise management 6

For more information on Alcoas Environmental
Improvement Plans, or to view a complete set of Water management and conservation 8
these plans please visit Alcoas website
Land stewardship 11 or contact Pinjarra Refinerys
Community Relations Officer on (08) 9531 6240. Waste management 12

Community involvement 14

Environmental regulation and management 15

National Pollution Inventory 16

How aluminium is made 17

From dirt to aluminium 18

2014 2016
Environmental Improvement
Plan for Pinjarra
Overview and acknowledgements

In April 2006, Alcoa released its first Environmental Improvement Alcoa is committed to the Pinjarra community and we
Plans (EIP) for each of its sites in Western Australia. EIPs are a acknowledge that initiatives based on suggestions raised by
voluntary initiative by Alcoa and a first for industry in this state. community members help us to continually improve. Alcoa
believes this plan will give its local communities a stronger
This EIP forms part of Pinjarra Refinerys operational plan for
sense of connection and ownership of its activities, which
2014 2016. It sets clear targets for improvement and identifies
include improving environmental performance and developing
the actions and initiatives that will be implemented to achieve
more sustainable operating practices.
the targets.
Our special thanks are extended to everyone involved in
We recognise that input from stakeholders is vital which is
producing this plan, particularly the Environmental Improvement
why several stakeholders assisted in the development of this
Plan Advisory Group you committed much of your personal
EIP including:
time to assist and for that we are grateful. The consultation
Community and neighbours. process proved that community, government and industry can
State government. collaborate successfully and work towards a shared vision.


Alcoa employees.

Simon Butterworth Simon Pascoe

General Manager Plant Manager
Western Australian Operations Pinjarra Refinery

Overview of Alcoa of
Australias operations
Alcoa has been sustainably mining, refining and
smelting in Australia since 1963 and is active in
all major aspects of the aluminium industry. The
company employs more than 5200 people in its
primary products business in Australia.

Alcoa of Australias principal operations in Western Australia are:
Huntly Mine Pinjarra Refinery
Willowdale Mine Wagerup Refinery
Kwinana Refinery Bunbury Port

Alcoa of Australias principal operations in Victoria are:

Portland Aluminium Smelter
Anglesea Power Station and coal mine
Point Henry Smelter

Perth, Western Australia is home to Alcoa of Australias

Pinjarra Refinery overview
headquarters and it is where the aluminium production
process starts. Pinjarra Refinery is part of Alcoas three-refinery system in
Western Australia. It is located 90kms south of Perth, 6kms
The Huntly and Willowdale bauxite mines in the Darling Range
east of the regional town of Pinjarra and 30 minutes drive from
south of Perth supply bauxite to Alcoas alumina refineries
the coastal city of Mandurah. The refinery is situated in the Peel
at Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup. These refineries extract
region of Western Australia, within the Shire of Murray and is a
alumina from the bauxite. The Huntly mine remains the worlds
major regional employer with more than 1,000 employees.
largest bauxite mine.
Bauxite mined from the Huntly mine supplies the refinery which
Alcoas two aluminium smelters are in Victoria at Point Henry
officially opened in 1972.
in Geelong and in Portland. Portland Aluminium is a joint
venture between Alcoa of Australia (55 per cent), which The refinery is one of the worlds largest with an annual alumina

manages the operations; CITIC Resources Australia Pty Ltd production capacity of approximately 4.5 million tonnes.

(22.5 per cent); and Marubeni Aluminium Australia Pty Ltd Combined with its co-generation partnership with Alinta, the
(22.5 per cent). Alcoas operations in Victoria also include a refinery achieves reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and
coal mine and power station at Anglesea which supplies improvements in the use of natural resources.
electricity to Point Henry Smelter.

Air quality
The management of air quality in and around Pinjarra
Refinery receives close community and government
scrutiny. In July 2008 Alcoa completed extensive
investigations into its refinery emissions. Detailed studies
by industry experts including the CSIRO, WA ChemCentre,
HRL Technology and the University of Adelaide
have improved Alcoas knowledge of the range and
concentration of chemical compounds present.

The primary air emissions from the refinery include nitrogen

oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), particulates in the form
of alumina dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), residue
dust and trace levels of metals.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx),

carbon monoxide (CO)
and particulates
Emissions of NOx and CO come from the use of fossil fuels such
as natural gas and are released from the refinerys powerhouse,
calciners, oxalate kiln and building 30 regenerative thermal
oxidiser (RTO). Emissions of particulates are released from the
calciners (in the form of alumina dust) and, to a much lesser
extent, the oxalate kiln.

Volatile organic compounds

VOC emissions are caused by the breakdown of organic material
contained in the bauxite, additives to the refining process (liquor
stream) and in by-products of fuel combustion processes.

During alumina refining, the organics produce a range of

substances, some of which are emitted to air. The VOC
emissions cause the odour associated with alumina refineries.

Greenhouse gases Table 1: Air quality
Alcoa established a global goal to reduce improvement objectives
greenhouse gas emissions under its direct control
by 25 per cent by 2010. This goal was achieved in
2003. Alcoa set a new target to reduce total carbon Objective Action
dioxide equivalent intensity by 20 per cent from the Minimise risk of dust Actively manage dust and investigate
2005 levels in Global Primary Products (mining, generation from opportunities to further improve
refining and smelting) by 2020 with the target of 30 Pinjarra Refinery and management practices.
residue operations
per cent by 2030. In 2010 a 22 per cent reduction Investigate opportunities to further improve
and aim to maintain
was achieved, years ahead of schedule. particulate control on calciners and
dust level below
implement where practical.
90g/m3 at the
Through productivity improvements and
Pinjarra racecourse Investigate opportunities to further improve
technological innovation Alcoa will continue to monitor. dust management at raw materials and
target a reduction in the greenhouse intensity of implement where practical.
its operations while striving to increase production. In addition to current site specific weather
forecasting include gust predictions.

Dust Investigate new technologies for WAO

The main source of dust from Pinjarra Refinery emits
Install additional dust monitor to east of
from the Residue Storage Area (RSA). If dry residue
RSA10 area
surfaces are not well managed, high wind speeds
can pick up and transport fine dust particles. Air quality
Dust generated from the RSA mainly consists of Objective Action
fine clay particles and sodium carbonate crystals. Reduce air emissions. Investigate options for reducing greenhouse
Sufficient concentrations of this material could be an gas emission intensity.
irritant to the eyes and respiratory tract. Monitoring Update the CCN on air emission
and modelling data illustrate it is extremely unlikely management, trends and improvements.
to reach levels sufficient to affect neighbouring Identify major sources of air emissions,
communities in this way. Dust is also generated at investigate opportunities for reductions
the bauxite stockpiles area. This dust has not been and prioritise according to practicality and
environmental benefit.
treated with caustic and has similar properties to
background dust from the Darling Range. Alcoa has Complete a field odour survey to validate
current odour emission data.
several ambient dust monitoring stations located
around the refinery. Dust emissions from the refinery Noise
and residue drying areas are monitored daily. This
Objective Action
data is used to assess the effectiveness of dust
control measures and facilitate improvements in Compliance with Develop and implement a plan to improve
management practices where required. the Environmental noise performance.
Protection (Noise)
Update CCN annually on noise plan
Regulations 1997.
development and implementation.
The closest noise sensitive premises to the Pinjarra
Refinery boundary are approximately 4km to the
south and north-east of the refinery. Noise monitoring
conducted at Pinjarra Refinery illustrates that the
closest noise sensitive premises north and south of
the refinery may experience noise levels above the
regulatory levels on some occasions. Premises to the
west of the refinery recorded noise data well below
the regulatory levels.

Water use
Pinjarra Refinery operates a closed water circuit
(ie no water is released into the surrounding

environment from the refinery or residue area) which
is supplemented for water losses. Water losses
primarily occur as steam and moisture from the
process, evaporation from water storage areas and

and residue surfaces and water bound within the residue

mud and sand.

Water used to supplement this loss is abstracted

from licensed groundwater and surface water sources.
In addition water is added to the circuit from:

Secondary treated effluent from the Water

Corporations Pinjarra sewage treatment plant.

Water contained in the caustic soda and bauxite.

Rainfall runoff from the refinery and residue areas.

The refinerys water supply relies heavily on surface

water flows. In low runoff years, extra water is
drawn from the groundwater sources upon state
government approval. To reduce the reliance on
surface water runoff and groundwater systems,
Alcoa is investigating options to use waste water
from sewage treatment facilities.

Groundwater Table 2: Water use improvement
Alcoa regularly monitors the many bores located objectives
across Pinjarra Refinery, its Residue Storage Area
Water use
and the Alcoa farmlands. The bores are of varying
depths and allow for water quality and depth Objective Action
monitoring in each of the aquifers beneath the Manage the Update CCN on Cattamarra abstraction
landholdings. Water monitoring results are reported Cattamarra Aquifer versus modelled predictions.
annually to the state government. within its sustainable
Investigate monitoring options to determine
effect of Cattamarra abstraction on the
Pinjarra Refinerys two-phase approach to
South Dandalup River system.
groundwater management encompasses spill
Increase efficiency of Report Alcoas water balance, water strategy
prevention and remediation: water use at Pinjarra and progress on wastewater reuse and
Refinery. alternative water sources to the CCN.
Spill prevention strategy: Pinjarra Refinery
implements a spill prevention program targeting Investigate aquifer recharge process.
areas with the highest potential for spills to occur. Investigate opportunities for dust control
that is not solely reliant on water at bauxite
Remediation strategy: Plans are developed to stockpiles and residue.
remediate existing contamination and engineering
Continue to improve water efficiency and
solutions are developed to treat root causes implement projects where feasible.
and prevent future contamination. Use of a
Geosynthetic Clay Liner in the newest residue Groundwater
storage area (RSA10) at Pinjarra illustrates Objective Action
Alcoas ongoing commitment to utilise modern
Zero government Eliminate major deficiencies in the
technologies to protect natural resources.
reportable loss of containment system where practical.
containment events
and minimise internal
loss of containment
Minimise offsite Continue to review and implement the
groundwater impacts. remediation strategy for the refinery and
residue area.
Update the CCN on progress of the Pinjarra
Refinery Containment Improvement Plan.
Actively manage Implement requirements of Contaminated
contaminated sites Sites Act 2003 in line with DER
investigation and Contaminated Sites guidelines as agreed
reporting requirements between Alcoa and DER.
for Pinjarra Refinery

Land stewardship
Pinjarra Refinery and its RSA are surrounded by
Table 3: Land stewardship
Alcoa Farmlands. Within the refinery and residue
area, the main area of significant vegetation
improvement objectives
or habitat is located within the rail loop. The Land stewardship
surrounding farmlands contain the majority of
Objective Action
native vegetation and habitat.
Actively manage Update and implement initiatives described
There are several areas of regional significance
Alcoa landholdings to in the Pinjarra Refinery Land Management
located in Alcoas Pinjarra landholdings including enhance and conserve Plan.
declared rare and priority flora, threatened ecological natural ecological
Continue feral animal and weed control
communities, conservation category wetlands and attributes.
heritage sites.
Continue Kangaroo management program.
Alcoa aims to protect the biodiversity located on Continue enhancement and infill of existing
its landholdings. Particular focus is on areas of plantings including fencing improvements.
increased significance such as the conservation Continue enhancement of ecological links
category wetlands and priority flora and fauna. (wetlands, streams, ecological corridors).

Management of the land in and immediately Maintain species protection for DRF
Synaphea stenoloba which is represented in
surrounding the RSA is detailed in the Long Term
several populations on Alcoas property.
Residue Management Strategy (LTRMS). The
Communicate land management activities to
LTRMS is updated every five years by a Stakeholder the community via the CCN.
Reference Group (SRG) that includes community,
Develop and implement Dieback
government and Alcoa representatives. The LTRMS Management Plan.
contains guiding principles that were developed by
Develop and implement Aboriginal Heritage
the SRG to provide Alcoa with guidance on how the Cultural Management Plan.
stakeholders would like the residue to be managed.
Assist Perth Zoo with termite harvesting for
the Numbat breeding program.
Develop and implement Cockatoo
monitoring program.

Visual amenity
Objective Action

Improve visual amenity Residue rehabilitation to be self sustaining

of Pinjarra Refinery and focused on visual amenity.
and its residue
Progress development of a long term visual
amenity plan taking into account life of mine
footprint, refinery expansion and future
surrounding land uses.
In the short term, visual amenity will focus
on the South Western Highway and Pinjarra-
Williams Road.

Waste management
An important focus area for Pinjarra Refinery is minimising paper towel; it includes anything that lived. The worm farm
the amount of landfill waste generated by its operations. has been in operation since 1995 and each year processes
The refinery produces both process and non-process waste. approximately 100 tonnes of waste from Alcoas Western
Process waste is produced directly from the Bayer process Australian operations.
(primarily waste alumina, hydrate, sand, mud and scale).
Non-process waste is generated by activities associated Residue
with Pinjarra Refinerys operation and domestic waste.
For approximately 30 years Alcoa has been investigating
Pinjarra Refinery has a number of recycling initiatives to enable opportunities to produce economically viable products from
progress toward minimising generation of landfill waste: bauxite residues. By identifying and demonstrating a range of
A three-bin system for recyclable, landfill and worm food alternative uses, bauxite residue may become a resource rather
(organic) waste. than a waste in the future. Three of these potential products are
residue sand, red lime and Alkaloam.
Individual recycling systems for specific wastes such as
batteries and printer cartridges. Initial testing indicates that residue sand could be used as a general
fill material, a construction backfill or as a material suitable for road
Worm food waste is sent to the worm farm where it is used for
base construction. Approximately 2000 cubic metres of residue
composting and landscaping at the refinery. Worm food consists
sand was used in the construction of Greenlands Road, south of
of organic material such as food wastes, shredded paper and

Pinjarra. The Main Roads Department considers residue Alcoa and the Department of Agriculture have investigated the possible
sand to be an excellent alternative to normal sand. use of Alkaloam as a soil amendment in the Peel-Harvey Catchment to
reduce the impact of nutrient runoff to the Peel-Harvey Estuary. Results
Red lime is alkaline and therefore has great
demonstrate phosphorous losses can be reduced by as much as 90 per
potential as an acid neutraliser. Red lime could
cent with pasture productivity increasing by about 25 per cent.
be more effective than most pH control products
because of the fine particle size and the sodium The Department of Agriculture is continuing to monitor sites under
carbonate that remains with the product. Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) guidelines within the Peel Harvey
Catchment which have been amended with Alkaloam. The results from
Alkaloam is the fine-grained residue often referred
these trials continue to show improved pasture productivity and reduced
to as red mud. A great deal of work has been
nutrient runoff. Alcoa and the Department of Agriculture believe Alkaloam
done to show the benefits of adding this material
has the potential to provide significant environmental benefit by reducing
to sandy soils, which are common in coastal
nutrient loss in agricultural regions.
regions of WA. Alkaloam has properties that
can raise acidic soil pH levels while retaining
phosphorous and reducing overall fertiliser use. Oxalate
The environmental outcome is the protection of Oxalate is a waste stream of the Bayer process that builds up in the caustic
sensitive waterways from nutrient loading. stream. Pinjarra Refinery recycles caustic through the process and as the
oxalate content increases, the process becomes less efficient. To maintain
efficiency the oxalate must be removed. The waste oxalate is normally
destroyed by the oxalate kiln, however when the kiln is offline or if too much
oxalate is produced, the waste oxalate must be stored in ponds at residue.

Alcoa has developed a new process for destroying oxalate called the
oxalate bioremoval process which uses naturally occurring bacteria to
break down the oxalate. The bioremoval process consumes significantly
less energy to operate than the oxalate kiln and produces bicarbonate
and carbonate which is reintroduced into the caustic stream. The Pinjarra
oxalate bioremoval facility was completed in 2013 and will process excess
oxalate produced by the refining process.

Table 4: Waste management

Objective Action

Reduce waste going to Continue to improve the recycling program.

Report to the CCN on waste management
and recycling performance.
Promote recycling programs within the
Pinjarra workforce.
Investigate options for alternative use / reuse
of waste streams.
Progress towards a Investigate options for oxalate management
long term solution to at residue.
oxalate management.

Community involvement
Pinjarra Refinery has the benefit of a dedicated Community With members of the CCN including people that are active
Consultative Network (CCN) which provides community in their community, the process provides a means for Alcoa
feedback and input on issues of interest to both the to reach its stakeholders and for Alcoa to have a greater
community and Alcoa. understanding of the needs of the community. The CCN enables
representation from neighbours, townspeople, local business
For Alcoa this engagement is a fundamental component of
owners and local and state government. Smaller working groups
managing its operations and growth projects. It makes the
are formed as needed from the CCN such as the Environmental
company more responsive to community views and creates
Improvement Plan Working Group and the Pinjarra Bauxite
new opportunities to work in partnership with communities
Residue Stakeholder Reference Group.
on local issues.
Further information on Alcoas community and stakeholder
The CCN was formed in 1994 and provides input on a range
engagement work is available at
of issues relating to Alcoas refining and mining operations, local
community matters and issues relevant to the Peel Region.

Environmental regulation
and management
Alcoas Western Australian operations are subject to
environmental regulation under the Environmental
Protection Act 1986 and are licensed by the Department
of Environment Regulation (DER). Alcoa is committed to
meeting the terms and conditions of its environmental
licence and environmental approval conditions.

Alcoas commitment to the EIP 2014 2016 is voluntary. It both

compliments and exceeds the requirements of its environmental
protection licence.

Environmental protection
Pinjarra Refinerys environmental licence is administered by the
DER which sets emission limits and other conditions to ensure
environmental impacts are managed.

Specific areas covered by the licence include:


Ambient dust monitoring and control.

Air emission limits, targets, monitoring and reporting.

Management of residue disposal areas.

Water quality monitoring and criteria.

Liquid chemical storage.

Waste acceptance at landfill.

Storage of oxalate.

Alcoas corporate Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

have been certified to ISO14001:2004 and each location in WA
is certified to this international standard through an external
certifying body. ISO14001 requires each location to identify
activities with the potential to significantly affect the environment,
define the controls in place to manage those risks and develop
action plans for improvement.

The EMS enables Alcoa to meet its environmental licence

requirements and commitments made in the EIP. Further
information on the Alcoa EMS can be found at

The National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) launched
the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) in 2000. It provides
communities with environmental emission data and aims to
satisfy community demands for this information as well as assist
governments and industry with environmental planning and
management. Emissions to air, land and water are reported.

The NPI is published on the Australian Governments National

Pollutant Inventory website This database
contains information about emissions from large operations
and the estimates of emissions from smaller business activities
such as petrol stations, dry cleaners, fast food outlets and
other sources including transport, home heating and cigarette
smoking. Pinjarra Refinery reports to the NPI annually.

To help people understand what NPI data means, the NPI

website provides contextual information. The aluminium industry
has added further information, which can be found on the
Australian Aluminium Council website:

Other links of interest include:

Australian Greenhouse Office:

Minerals Council of Australia:

Western Australian Department of Environment Regulation:

Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority:

Centre for Excellence in Cleaner Production:

Greening Australia:

How aluminium is made

From bauxite ore

Darling Range Bauxite
to versatile metal
The aluminium making process 7 tonnes bauxite
starts with a chemically altered and
weathered rock known as bauxite. Its
Energy Export alumina
colour and texture looks little more
Caustic soda Alumina Refinery Bayer Process
than ordinary gravel. However, its
Lime Chemical feed stock
careful extraction from mines in the
2 tonnes alumina
Darling Range of Western Australia (al2o3)
start a process which since the
beginning of the 20th century has Alumium Smelter
Coke, Pitch Export ingot
revolutionised the transport, building Hall-heroult Process
Aluminium Fluoride
and other high technology industries.
1 tonne aluminium
By mixing bauxite with caustic soda, (molten al)
and then pressure heating, Alcoa
extracts alumina in a fine white Alloy elements Rolling Mill Export can sheet
powder form. Alumina is shipped to
aluminium smelters in Victoria and
exported around the world.

The alumina is then smelted at very

high temperatures and an electric
current passed through it to form
aluminium one of the worlds most
versatile metals.

From dirt to aluminium
Mining and Rehabilitation Refining Process

Preparation of Bauxite mining Crushing plant Ore conveyors Rehabilitation Digestion

mining area A 4-5 m layer of Ore is taken to a The ore is then After mining, topsoil Finely ground bauxite is
After clearing of timber caprock and bauxite crusher where it transported by and overburden are mixed with hot caustic soda
and other material, is removed using is crushed into conveyor belt and returned to the area solution to dissolve the
topsoil and overburden large excavators smaller pieces. rail to the refineries and the site is prepared alumina from the bauxite.
are carefully removed or loaders and for processing. for revegetation. Every seven tonnes of bauxite
and returned after haul trucks. makes two tonnes of alumina.
mining when the areas Smelting Process
are being rehabilitated.

Dissolving alumina Chemical process Calcination Precipitation Clarification

Alumina is dissolved Alumina is made up of The alumina hydrate is The liquid containing Insolubles, such as sand
in an electrolytic aluminium and oxygen, washed, then heated to alumina hydrate is then and mud, are settled
bath of molten cryolite which need to be remove water, leaving cooled in large open and filtered out, leaving
within a large lined separated to produce a pure dry alumina in tanks and seed crystals a solution of dissolved
furnace known as the metal. Every two the form of a fine white added, causing the alumina hydrate.
a pot. There are tonnes of alumina powder. This is cooled alumina to crystalise
hundreds of pots at makes one tonne of and stored, then shipped out of solution.
a typical smelter. aluminium. to smelters for processing.

Rolling Process

Reduction process Forming aluminium Casting Hot rolling Coiling

A high electric current is Electricity maintains The molten aluminium Aluminium ingot is The aluminium strip
passed through pots via the temperature of is cast at a temperature reheated to around from the hot rolling mill
carbon blocks. The current the process at about of just over 700C to 600C, then passed is coiled and cooled
flows continuously from 950C and enables form ingots. through a hot finishing before being sent to
the carbon block (positive) the alumina to split mill where it is reduced the cold rolling mill.
through the alumina/ into aluminium and in thickness to 3-6mm.
cryolite mix to the lining oxygen, with aluminium
of the pot (negative), and settling to the bottom
then on to the next pot. of the pot.
Recycling Process

Final processing Initial processing Classification Preparation Sheet finishing Cold rolling
and casting Coated aluminium Upon receipt at the Recycling aluminium Most sheet products The aluminium coil is
Molten aluminium is (painted or lacquered) Alcoa Australia Rolled starts with preparation require a finishing step further reduced (to as
transferred to a holding is processed through Products Yennora for transporting, which such as cleaning, thin as 0.24 mm) by
furnace and then cast a gas fired rotary furnace recycling centre, the involves compaction to coating and slitting. three passes through
into ingots. Recycling before being sent to recycled aluminium improve the density of All products are a cold rolling mill. Exit
aluminium consumes a melter where it is is classified so the the aluminium and to trimmed to customer speeds of cold rolling
only five per cent of the mixed with uncoated optimal end use and reduce freight, storage specified widths. mills are as high as
energy required to make or new aluminium. processing path can and handling costs. 1000 metres per minute.
new aluminium, with no be determined.
loss in quality.