New water treatment system starts operations in Alunorte

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Hydro’s Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil has begun operation of a new water treatment station. On 24 January 2020 Hydro received the operating license from the Secretary of State for Environment and Sustainability (Semas). The BRL675 million (USD160m) project, part of a modernization of the refinery’s effluent management system, prepares the plant for future climate change.

The project has new wastewater and rainwater containment basins, new carbon steel pipes and repowering pumps for drainage of material to the treatment stations. With the completion of the project, Alunorte now has the capacity to treat 14,500 cubic meters of water per hour.

Together with the water treatment station, the construction of the two new containment basins increased the water containment capacity of the operational area. The two have a capacity of 274,000 cubic meters, equivalent to 110 Olympic swimming pools.

Ready for climate change

The objective of the works was to prepare Alunorte for severe climate change in the future, ensuring water treatment and containment. “This investment is in line with the company’s goal of making Alunorte a global reference in efficiency, safety and quality for the aluminium sector,” says Carlos Neves, director of Operations of Bauxite & Alumina in Hydro.

All improvements implemented were tested with the monitoring of environmental agencies. From a socioeconomic point of view, the investment also resulted in job opportunities: 1,600 workers were hired at the peak of the project, 95% of them from the Barcarena region where the refinery is located, and 32 employees were hired to operate the new facility.

Community engagement

In addition to operational improvements, Alunorte has intensified its relationship with the communities of Barcarena. Its Visit Programme has received about 1,500 people in the last two years. The local community could get acquainted with the refinery’s operations, including production systems and environmental controls.

Currently, the company maintains 11 social programmes that benefit about 15,000 people in the State of Pará, through education and training initiatives as a basis for sustainable development, in addition to 7,600 people who benefit from programs promoting economic growth, based on entrepreneurship and family farming.

Hydro has also committed to invest BRL 100 million for the establishment of Sustainable Barcarena, an independent platform to promote and accelerate positive social change in the municipality.

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