Hydro Invests €3 Million in State-of-the-Art Water Treatment Plant in Schwandorf, Germany

Hydro Invests €3 Million in State-of-the-Art Water Treatment Plant in Schwandorf, Germany

(IN BRIEF) Hydro is dedicating €3 million to construct a new water treatment plant at its Schwandorf legacy site in Germany. The legacy site, acquired by Hydro in 2002, holds bauxite residue from operations by VAW from the 1930s to the 1990s. To enhance environmental protection and efficiency, Hydro has taken over the water treatment at the site and is building a new plant with advanced technology. The improvements include reduced chemical usage, increased automation, and preparation for extreme weather events. This investment aligns with Hydro’s commitment to the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, ensuring safety and sustainability in their operations. The new water treatment plant is scheduled to be operational in Q2/Q3 2024, with a total investment of approximately €5-6 million over the next two years across the Schwandorf and Stulln legacy sites.

(PRESS RELEASE) OSLO, 3-Oct-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — Hydro operates and maintains three bauxite residue facilities at the Schwandorf legacy site in the eastern part of Bavaria, Germany. The site holds residue from operations by German aluminium producer VAW in the period 1930s-1990s. The site became a part of Hydro with the acquisition of VAW in 2002. It was a legacy site already then.

Due to various water streams at the site, there is a water management system which collects and treats water, consisting of rainwater falling within the parameters and run-offs from the deposits. Up until September 30, the water treatment was outsourced.

Since October 1, 2023, Hydro has taken over the water treatment and will implement several improvements as the company is building a new water treatment plant. Improvements are including reduced use of chemicals and increased level of automation, which will reduce the HSE risk of workers at the site. In addition, the new water treatment plant is engineered for climate adaptation preparing for future extreme weather events.

Protecting environment using state-of-the-art technology

“Hydro has in place dedicated capabilities and resources for managing our legacy portfolio worldwide. At the Schwandorf facilities we will be using state-of-the-art technology, and protect soil and water environments,” says Bjørn Kjetil Mauritzen, Head of Sustainability in Hydro.

To meet new upcoming requirements on tailings management, Hydro is currently installing a new water treatment plant.

The project is carried out in five steps:

  • Erection of a temporary water treatment plant next to the old water treatment plant
  • Switch-over from old water treatment plant to the temporary plant, in operation from October 1, 2023
  • Dismantling of the old water treatment plant
  • Erection of a new permanent water treatment plant in the same spot as the old plant was located
  • Switch-over from temporary water treatment plant to the permanent water treatment plant

The new permanent water treatment plant at Schwandorf is planned to be in operation during Q2/Q3 2024. Hydro is carrying out the project at Schwandorf in close collaboration with local authorities and with support from local expertise. Over the next two years, Hydro plans to invest approximately EUR 5-6 million at the legacy sites in Schwandorf and Stulln in the Region of Oberpfalz.

New framework for tailings facilities

The closed legacy tailings facilities in Schwandorf and Stulln fall under the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) commitment. GISTM is a robust framework developed to enhance the safety, sustainability, and overall management of tailings facilities in the mining industry. It was launched in August 2020 by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), PRI (an investor initiative in partnership with UNEP Finance Initiative and UN Global Compact) and the International Council on Mining & Minerals (ICMM).

“The implementation of GISTM in the mining industry is important for mitigating risks, fostering sustainable operations and building trust. Given the dynamic nature of the framework conditions, GISTM represents an ongoing process of improvement, utilizing the most advanced technology, integrated thought, proactive measures, cooperation, and knowledge acquisition,” says Mauritzen.

Facts about tailings management in Hydro

  • Hydro currently has active tailings facilities in Paragominas and Barcarena in the Brazilian state of Pará, designed to contain the tailings from bauxite mining and residue from the alumina refining process. Hydro also owns legacy tailings facilities at Schwandorf and Stulln, Germany.
  • Hydro’s objective for tailings management is zero failures that may lead to loss of life or life-changing injuries, material negative socioeconomic impact or material environmental damage throughout the tailings facilities’ lifecycle, from design to post closure.
  • Hydro has invested heavily in improved tailings management in later years, introducing state-of-the-art technology for treatment and disposal of the residue generated from the production of bauxite and alumina.
  • Hydro has long experience with running water treatment plants in relation to tailings operations. At the Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil, Hydro operates modern water treatment plants with the capacity to treat 14,500 cubic meters of water per hour.

Media Contact:

Anders Vindegg
Head of Media Relations, Group Communication
+47 93864271

SOURCE: Norsk Hydro ASA



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