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Global links boost alumina industry

The worldwide demand for alumina and aluminium products is rising rapidly with local mineral processing companies undertaking expansion projects to keep up with their global counterparts.

US-based FLSmith Minerals has recently expanded its manufacturing base — on both Australia’s east and west coasts — with new calciners, baghouses, a ball mill, alumina handling systems and a stacker/reclaimer, boosting the local economy and supplying jobs for residents.

According to FLSmith Minerals global product manager — alumina, Benny Raahauge, who recently visited Australia, local mineral processing companies would do well to integrate specialist services into their portfolio to remain competitive with larger players in the industry.

“Aluminium is the material for the future and its production is heading toward greenhouse gas neutral,” he says.

“Additionally, the life cycle and continuing use and reuse of aluminium — from manufacture to recycling — makes it an extremely efficient material.”

Raahauge is also a strong advocate for operator and operational safety and says this is a direction his company will continue to develop.

“Hot caustic needs extreme safety, and equipment used in alumina processing requires specialist designs. Australia is world frontrunner in safe manufacturing environment and as a company we have a responsibility to design and maintain plant and equipment to reflect and maintain this safety culture,” he says.

FLSmith has recently announced a new project in India which will include two 2500tpd calciners, a horizontal pan filter, bauxite crushers, ball mills, a pipe conveyor, and coal handling wash thickeners. A team of experts on filtration, sedimentation, crushing and grinding, hydrocyclones, calcination and bauxite and aluminium material handling was responsible for developing the new venture, which Raahauge hopes will allow the company to maintain its lead in the alumina processing sector.

“The members of this team are spread around the globe,” he says.

“As a company we have a wealth of knowledge and pockets of excellence that are tapped as required. We also recognise the diversity of the group and we are developing that diversity into a worldwide resource for mineral processing industry.”

A 35-year veteran of the alumina processing industry, Raahauge was recently in Australia to check progress on current projects and also to meet with staff and customers of the company’s local operations.

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