Australia’s Alumina Limited is supporting Pittsburgh’s aluminium pioneer Alcoa Corporation’s bauxite mining project in Australia against a pushback in Western Australia centered on its waste disposal practices.
Peter Day, Alumina Limited’s chairman, said at a gathering in Melbourne earlier this week that it is in talks with the local government regarding new regulations that will apply to its bauxite operations.
Day said that a great deal of the problem involves the reporting about its operations.
“Unfortunately, there has been a lot of reporting that needs to be addressed, and I think in time Alcoa of Australia will be able to comment on that publicly.”
Australian media has reported for several months about Alcoa’s operations in Western Australia’s jarrah forests, which media reports say has caused an erosion problem that may make local water undrinkable.
Though Western Australia’s premier Mark McGowan expressed confidence that Alcoa’s bauxite operations would not harm local drinking water, media has reported that the over 100 square miles of forests that Alcoa has cleared in its 60-year history of operations there still has not been fully rehabilitated.
However, Day pushed back against that claim on Monday.
“I don’t accept that we have not achieved the government’s requirements, we have in fact, achieved a number of certificates of completion.”
Day went on to say that failing to rehabilitate forests in the area would do no favors for either Alumina Limited nor Alcoa.
“To do so would naturally abrogate our obligations and our responsibilities, and we would lose a social licence to operate.”
Alumina chief executive Mike Ferraro defended Alcoa by asserting that its operations in Western Australia has been extremely lucrative for Western Australia and Alcoa’s shareholders. Per Alumina, Alcoa has paid A$2.8 billion in taxes and A$3.5 billion in wages in the past five years.