UC Rusal’s new red mud recycling prototype facility will be included in the Russian Ministry of Education and Science’s “Russian Science and Technology Complex Priority Research and Development Areas 2007-2013” program. The Ministry will invest RUR 150 million ($5 million) for the research and pilot launch of the project. The main partners in the research project are the Institute of Metallurgy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Ural Branch) and the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS).

Once the R&D stage is completed, the company will begin the construction of a production unit at the Urals aluminum smelter (UAZ). Investment at this stage of the project will amount to RUR 600 million ($20 million). The facility is expected to launch in November 2014, with the capacity to treat up to 200,000 metric tons (mt) of red mud annually.

“Recycling of red mud is an issue faced throughout the world,” said Viktor Mann, technical director, UC Rusal. “We are grateful to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science for taking an active part in the solution of this problem. I am sure Rusal, in partnership with the best Russian scientists and on the base of the existing scientific research, will succeed in creating an environmentally clean alternative to red mud disposal areas, paving the way for the future exploitation of the red mud in the iron industry and construction with the simultaneous extraction of valuable rare-earth metals.”

Following the launch of this facility, UAZ will establish red mud recycling operations, creating a new production market and the potential to implement the technology in other RUSAL plants. Scientists estimate the market demand of red mud and its recycled products from Russian business could be more than 3 million mt annually. RUSAL believes there is wider application for this innovative recycling technology beyond UAZ and will look to roll out at the Bogoslovsk aluminum smelter, the Nikolaev alumina refinery and RUSAL overseas alumina refineries in Ireland, Guinea, Australia and Jamaica.