BENEFICIAL RE-USE OF RED MUD USING VIROTEC’S BASECON™ AND BAUXSOL™ TECHNOLOGIES AT THE QUEENSLAND ALUMINA REFINERY, GLADSTONE AUSTRALIA
Since the late 1990s the Virotec Pty Ltd has been successfully applying the patented the Basecon™ Technology for processing red mud, converting it into a safe remediation material known as Bauxsol™. Originally developed using Queensland Alumina (QAL) red mud, Bauxsol™ Technologies were developed to provide a treatment for Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and Acid Sulphate Soils due to the high acid neutralising capacity and an exceptional capacity to bind heavy metals in environmentally stable forms. The resulting reagents limit the generation of acidic, metal-laden leachate, bind into nonbioavailable forms any metal contamination present in water and soils and facilitate revegetation of affected areas as demonstrated at the originally treated site at Mt Carrington Mine in 2002. The technology has been widely accepted as proven, however the ability to produce high volumes and processing of red mud at the source is a key step removing barriers to large scale operations. In collaboration with QAL and Rio Tinto a proposal for the establishment of a facility for the production of commercial quantities of Bauxsol™ within the QAL operations was implemented. A large commercial trial demonstrated the ability of the Virotec process to work within the QAL Red Mud Disposal Area (RDA) and working together with QAL, Virotec developed a strategy for in-situ processing of red mud within the RDA avoiding the additional handling requirements for reclaiming prior to processing. This has resulted in a safer, more streamlined and cost effective operation.