Orbite Aluminae Inc., a Montreal-based company with access to about 1 billion tonnes of aluminous clay in Quebec’s Grande-Vallé region, has successfully produced alumina from red mud in a laboratory test. A patent is now pending, which Orbite officials expect will be approved within a year.
Red mud (also known as alumina waste) contains a variety of composites, including silica, titanium silica, calcium, and iron. This red mud waste is typically produced in quantities twice as high as alumina as an after-effect of refining, and is difficult to dispose of, thus causing issues for refineries who become bogged down with the mud during production and have no easy way of removing or reusing it.
Orbite’s innovative discovery has the potential to drastically change the industry, which has never been able to effectively dispose of red mud. The company plans to bring two new alumina plants online over the course of the next several years. The first may be ready as soon as the end of this year, and is expected to produce 1,000 tonnes per year of high-purity alumina beginning in 2013. The second plant is set to produce about 540,000 tonnes per year of smelter-grade alumina, as well as 180,000 tonnes of highly pure ferrous oxide, by 2014.
— American Metals Market