Hindalco Industries Ltd. has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UltraTech Cement Ltd., India’s largest manufacturer of cement and concrete, to deliver 1.2 million metric tonnes of red mud (also known as bauxite residue) annually to UltraTech’s 14 plants located across 7 states. Hindalco is the world’s first company to achieve 100% red mud utilisation across three of its refineries.
Red mud generated in the alumina manufacturing process is rich in iron oxides, along with alumina, silica and alkali. The cement industry has developed the capability to process red mud as a replacement for mined minerals such as laterite and lithomarge in its process. Hindalco is supplying red mud to UltraTech Cement plants where it has proved to be an effective substitute for mined materials, successfully replacing up to 3% of clinker raw mix volume. Use of red mud reduces the cement industry’s dependence on natural resources and promotes a circular economy.
Hindalco’s alumina refineries are currently supplying 250,000 metric tonnes of bauxite residue to cement companies every month, making Hindalco the world’s first company to have enabled such large scale commercial application of bauxite residue. In the current year, Hindalco aims to achieve 2.5 million metric tonnes of bauxite residue utilisation, which will be another global milestone.
Mr. Satish Pai, Managing Director, Hindalco, said, “Hindalco has been working with cement companies to develop high-grade inputs for the construction industry. Hindalco has built a strong customer base and supplies red mud to over 40 cement plants every month. We have achieved 100% red mud utilization at three of our refineries and our vision is to achieve zero-waste alumina production across our operations. Hindalco’s actions underscore our commitment to embracing solutions that have the potential to deliver long-term sustainability impact and transform the future.”
Globally, 160 million metric tonnes of red mud is produced annually and stored in large tracts of land which is a serious industry challenge. To find a sustainable solution, Hindalco has invested in infrastructure and collaborated with cement companies, with UltraTech Cement being a key partner.
Mr. K.C. Jhanwar, Managing Director, UltraTech Cement, said, “UltraTech has been among the early adopters in India on the use of alternative raw materials and fuels in manufacturing and invested to build storage, handling and processing facilities. Use of waste like red mud as an alternative raw material for manufacturing cement requires infrastructure and process modification to ensure a win-win for both business and the environment.”
Last year, UltraTech consumed about 15.73 million metric tonnes of industrial waste as alternate raw material and about 300,000 metric tonnes as alternative fuel in its kilns.
Mr. Jhanwar added, “With an annual supply of 1.2 million metric tonnes of red mud from Hindalco, we expect to conserve more than 1 million metric tonnes of mined natural resources like laterite in our manufacturing process. Enhancing our contribution to the circular economy by strategically increasing the use of waste as raw material and fuel in the cement manufacturing process, is in line with our aim to achieve our long-term sustainability goals.”
The MoU represents a significant sustainability initiative for both Hindalco and UltraTech. Waste of one industry being used as an input material in another is more than an example of a circular economy, it exemplifies Hindalco’s sustainability-first approach to business.
In response, to the announcement, Secretary General for the International Aluminium Institute (IAI), Miles Prosser, said: “For successfully exploring new uses for Bauxite Residue in the cement industry, I’d like to congratulate IAI member Hindalco and UltraTech Cement for this fantastic achievement. If aluminium by-products can also deliver environmental benefits in another industry, such as cement, then we are making great progress towards a sustainable circular economy. Hindalco has contributed immensely to our work on Bauxite Residue in cement production and we’re looking forward to learning from them and hope to replicate their success across the industry. Our long term goal is to find uses for the industry’s by-products to ensure the least possible environmental disruption.”