What are the ways aluminum production is becoming better for the environment?
- Reduced energy usage
- Reduced water usage
- Minimal land disruption
- Reduced waste output
In recent years, improved recycling of aluminum, advances in technology, and continued discoveries of new ore reserves have largely lessened the fears of the production process of the material harming the environment. However, even though the mining and processing of products like aluminum profiles in the Philippines can be done in a relatively small area, the pollution and infrastructure associated with these activities have the potential to affect the long-term health of ecosystems.
Mining and processing activities can also reduce the ability of ecosystems to provide the services and goods necessary for environmental and human well-being. These services might include the decomposition of waste materials and the purification of water an air. When a high level of pollution is present, these services can be compromised. One of the important pillars of sustainable aluminum production is ensuring a healthy environment will be available to future generations.
Aluminum mining and production operations are now being done in a manner that reduces their impact on the environment and their surroundings in order to become more sustainable. These operations are also making an effort to leave their mining sites in an acceptable state so they can be reused by the local people or ecosystems. Here are four ways aluminum production is becoming better for the environment.
Reduced Energy Usage
Mining and processing aluminum can be a very energy-intensive activity. During this process, for example, the excavators and trucks consume diesel fuel when mining the bauxite ore while electricity is needed to grid the ore and refine the aluminum. Finally, in order to smelt the bauxite ore and make aluminum, coal is required.
This is also without taking into account the environmental impacts of the extraction of fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal and the construction of infrastructure required to generate this energy. This includes increased risks of contaminating the environment along the supply route of the energy and the production of greenhouse gases.
This is why aluminum mines and processing sites have made the effort to reduce their energy consumption in order to also curb their emission of greenhouse gases and extend the life of fossil fuel reserves. In addition, this can also reduce their costs of operations which then also reduces the price of the aluminum being mined.
Reduced Water Usage
Water is used in a variety of different applications at aluminum mining and processing sites. However, when groundwater is pumped and surface water is diverted, aluminum mining operations can both reduce the quality and quantity of water they need for their production. This leaves more water available downstream for aquatic ecosystems and other municipal and industrial water users, especially in areas where water may be scarce.
In order to reduce their consumption of water, especially in regions where water might not be readily available, a number of aluminum mining and processing operations are developing and implementing new and innovative water conservation practices to reduce water use.
Minimal Land Disruption
Currently, aluminum mining and processing sites disturb only a small fraction of the total land surface of the Earth. Because these mining and processing activities use land at every stage of production, it can potentially lead to deforestation and loss of habitat for native fauna.
The mining cycle typically involves exploration, construction, operation, closure, and post-closure. Vegetation needs to be cleared in order to construct roads, power lines, and buildings. Tunnels or open pits need to be dug in order to gain access to the bauxite ore and waste storage facilities such as tailings ponds need to be expanded over the course of the operation.
There are a few ways aluminum mining and processing sites have reduced their impact on land use including minimizing the amount of waste produced and stored, culturing or transplanting any endangered plants that can be found on site in order to maintain biodiversity and reducing the overall footprint of the mining area.
Reduced Waste Output
Waste produced in mines include mine water, particles in the air, and solid waste. While the composition of all of these waste can vary, they still have the potential for environmental contamination.
In response to this, aluminum mining and processing sites have implemented waste management plans in order to design and choose the best storage facilities for the large volume of waste they usually produce.
Aluminum mining and production sites today realize that it is more economical and more effective to reduce their impact on the environment rather than cleaning it up later on.
The mining and processing of products like aluminum profiles in the Philippines and in other countries have increasingly become more sustainable thanks to the development and integration of practices that reduce their impact on the environment.
Because of such practices as minimizing land disturbance, reducing water and energy consumption, preventing pollution at production sites, etc. the damage done to the ecosystems can be reduced to a minimum.