By Nageshwar Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, May 27, 2018: The Maharatna public sector metal major, National Aluminium Company (Nalco) is exploring appropriate technologies to ramp up its profitability under the waste-to wealth model to process mineral wastes and commercialise them.

The blue-chip company has started working in four areas to convert waste to wealth, according to Nalco’s chairman & managing director T K Chand.

“First of all we are looking for appropriate technology for extraction of iron ore concentrates from red mud. The iron ore concentrates retrieved this way could find applications in steel making. But, lack of technology has hampered in this regard. Nalco is talking to some Chinese companies for firming up the technology. We are in contact with the Chinese companies to adopt the required technology,” Chand said on Sunday.

Nalco has an inventory of 60 million tonnes (mt) of red mud at its captive bauxite deposits atop Panchpatmalli hills in southern Odisha’s Koraput district. With the application of the ideal technology, at least 16 mt of iron ore concentrates can be extracted, he added.

The company is also in the hunt for the technology to extract Gallium and Mercury from Bayer liquor, extraction of rare earth elements from Red Mud. “Extraction of Gallium from Bayer Liquor is NALCO’s first R&D project with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai with an objective to develop indigenous technology for this strategic metal, in national interest,” Chand remarked.

Nalco is also looking for appropriate techniques for utilising Partially Lateritised Khondalite (PLK) rocks as a substitute for clay or clay equivalent or which is acceptable for use in the filler industry. PLK rocks are the waste materials generated as a result of mining of bauxite. The major discolouring elemental impurities in the PLK are titanium oxide and iron oxides, which render it unsuitable for its use as a filler material. The company has plans to recover hidden alumina from PLK rocks. Upon removal of the first two seams, such deposits can yield 15-20 per cent alumina.

“For alumina extraction technology, we are discussing with a few IITs and the Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT), Bhubaneswar. Nalco is keen to commercialize this alumina after extraction”, Chand said adding that any surplus alumina is bound to enrich Nalco’s bottomline.

Last but not the least is its Captive Power Plant (CPP) at Angul has been making continuous efforts to increase fly ash Utilisation in an environment friendly manner through various methods. Fly ash generated in the CPP is used for various activities like manufacturing of bricks and tiles, use in cement industry, asbestos manufacturing, agriculture, concreting work, road construction work, Chand remarked.

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