Bhubaneswar: Red Mud is a waste from Alumina Industry and its disposal and utilization has always been a matter of concern for Environmentalists as well as Alumina industry. Although, the Alumina technology is more than 100 Years old but no solution could be evolved by the Industry to avoid storage of Red Mud slurry. As , the slurry is alkaline in nature and its generation is nearly one and a half time of Alumina, world over several billion tons of Red mud is lying in various Red mud ponds except in some countries where it is being discharged into the sea. The recent failure of red Mud Pond in Hungary had drawn worldwide attention as it has impacted several thousand people.
In any Alumina refinery, a major portion of land is used for handling this waste. Although, red Mud is rich in Iron and Titanium but no use could be made till now mainly due to presence of Caustic Soda. In several places, lot of ground water contamination also has been observed due to seepage. Such ponds always vulnerable to earth movement and thus creates serious environmental threat. In India, most of the new projects were opposed mainly on this ground. Looking into the serious nature of hazard such Red Mud pond may have, MoEF has formed a special project only few months back as National Mission for Red Mud to sponsor and promote research in Red Mud Utilization.
Vedanta alumina refinery has commissioned a project of producing Red Mud Powder in a fully mechanized and automatic plant. Giving details of the project, Dr Mukesh Kumar, President and COO of VAL informed that this is first of its kind project in the world which has been set up at a capital expenditure of appx Rs 50 Cr. The system has been developed in house after a continuous research of more than 3 years. Besides numerous advantages the system will have like saving in Caustic consumption by 10-15 Kg per tone of Alumina, minimizing land requirement by 50-60%, elimination of wet red mud storage and thus eliminating all environmental hazard, now the powdery red mud can easily be utilized in Cement Industry as well as in other Industry . Dr Mukesh Kumar further informed that they believe in expertize available in the country and thus signed MoUs with several institutions including CSIR laboratories in the country under Industry –Institution Interface promoted by Eastern Regional office of MoEF as well as SPCB Odisha to develop more such technologies so that refinery can be made as Zero Discharge and Zero Waste Refineries and optimum utilization of Natural resources can be ensured without any environmental risks.