Aluminum Oxide is an aluminum’s amphoteric oxide whose chemical formula is Al2O3. The compound also goes by the name of aloxite or alumina in the materials science, mining, and ceramic communities. The Bayer process is applied in the production of aluminum oxide from bauxite, and it is commonly used in the production of the metal aluminum. The compound's high melting point makes it particularly useful as an abrasive.
World's Leading Producers Of Aluminum Oxide
Australia produces 18,312,000 tons of aluminum annually. This production accounts for more than 18% of the global supply. Bauxite in the country is mined from open cut operations at Western Australia's Darling Range, Gove in the Northern Territory, and Weipa in Queensland. New operations have further been established in Central Tasmania and the Cape York area of Queensland. Once mined, the bauxite is channeled to Australia's six alumina refineries namely Wagerup, Yarwun, Kwinana, Worsley, QAL, and Pinjarra for the Bayer Process. The alumina industry in Australia is dominated by the Alcoa, South32, and Rio Tinto companies. Australia can satisfy it local demand for the product and export to other nations as well.
China produces 13,312,000 tons of aluminum oxide yearly. China's bauxite deposits are primarily concentrated in Shanxi, Yunnan, Shandong Henan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. China ranks as the top bauxite importing nation, and it buys from such countries as Malaysia, Australia, Guinea, Brazil, Ghana, Turkey, India, and Vietnam. Both the local and imported bauxite feed the alumina-producing plants in the country. One of the companies called the Hongqiao Group Limited and Winning Investment Company Limited had established a large-scale smeltery in Indonesia to produce aluminum oxide.
Brazil produces 6,720,200 tons of aluminum oxide annually. Brazil ranks as the third largest producer of the mineral bauxite behind Australia and China. The largest of the country's bauxite mines is the Mineracao Rio do Norte mine situated in Pará state. Nearly 18 million tons of the mineral is extracted from the mine yearly. Another Brazilian bauxite mine is the Paragominas mine also situated in Pará and which has approximately one billion tons in bauxite deposits. The mine is managed by the Vale Company with an annual production of about 9,900,000 tons. The biggest alumina refinery in the country is Hydro Alunorte which operates in the Barcarena industrial park. 14% of the refinery's production is channeled to the local market while the rest goes to its international buyers including countries in Europe and the Middle East.
The US produces 5,012,000 tons of aluminum oxide yearly. The US was a major bauxite source in the early 20th century, but it currently accounts for less than 1% of the world bauxite production. The mined bauxite deposits in the US have been from the southeastern parts of the nation. The regions of Arkansas, Spottswood in Virginia, Eufaula in Alabama, and Andersonville in Georgia have supported bauxite-mining operations. Companies dealing with aluminum oxide in the country include Aluchem of Little Rock and Metal Exchange Corporation.
Environmental Effects Of The Aluminum Oxide Industry
The production of aluminum oxide depends on the supply of bauxite. The mining of bauxite, on the other hand, facilitates air pollution through bauxite dust and residue. The residue and dust contribute to the pollution of water bodies. Unregulated bauxite mining has been taunted as detrimental to the ecosystem of the region where a particular mine is located. The bauxite residue resulting from the Bayer Process is stored in holding ponds which bears toxic compounds and can prove detrimental to human life if accidentally leaked.