Decisions on bauxite residue management are surrounded by high degrees of uncertainty and absence of agreed indicators and metrics. The alumina industry therefore supported the development of a Quantitative Methodology for Strategic Assessment of the Sustainability of Bauxite Residue Management which combines strategic outlook with quantitative outcomes-based assessment. The methodology compares current practice with ideal values, derived from sustainability aspirations. An indicator system combines management indicators (for planning, management and reporting systems); condition indicators (state of environment and communities surrounding residue operations), and operational indicators (technical and economic performance). They have three hierarchical levels: Headline Performance Indicators (six, measuring sustainability objectives); Key Performance Indicators (twenty four, measuring sustainability impacts) and Performance Measures (flexible set, measuring operational contributions). Performance is measured on a five-level ordinal scale.
A Sustainability Assessment Tool was developed, and was piloted at an operating residue storage facility. Its unique advantages are the universal performance measuring system for environmental, social and economic outcomes, and the strategic orientation towards improvement and innovation in residue technology. It complements existing audit protocols and strategic planning processes, and demonstrates that even with imperfect knowledge and uncertainty, quantified sustainability tools can be developed that aid in decision making on development and implementation of residue strategies and technologies.