Rusal Aughinish Alumina is the largest alumina refinery in Europe and the largest of the alumina facilities operated by UC RUSAL.
The plant was built between 1978 and 1983 and had an initial rated capacity of 800,000 tonnes a year. The current annual capacity of the refinery is in excess of 1.9 million tonnes of alumina. Rusal Aughinish has always been to the forefront in terms of technology in the industry. Year after year it implements the most modern technologies available to ensure it remains one of the top alumina producers in the world.
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The Bayer process is an energy-intensive technology and consumes large amounts of fuel oil and energy. To satisfy the refinery’s demand for energy, a 160 megawatt Combined Heat & Power Plant (CHP Plant) was built on the site of Rusal Aughinish. Currently, the CHP Plant generates steam and power for the refinery and supplies surplus power to the national power grid. All fuel requirements use natural gas at Aughinish. The Aughinish CHP facility is the largest in Ireland and UK combined. Rusal Aughinish is one of the most energy efficient high temperature alumina refineries in the world.
Rusal Aughinish operates a dry disposal bauxite residue disposal area (BRDA). The design and operating procedures feature many examples of best practice such as:
- perimeter embankment protection from potential changes in sea level and prevention of residue egress to surrounding areas;
- mud farming using Amphirol technology to maximise compaction and resultant storage capacity;
- automatic sprinkler system to prevent fugitive dusting.
The Rusal Aughinish Alumina Refinery and associated BRDA border the lower river Shannon “Special Area of Conservation” and the “Aughinish Island Designated Bird Sanctuary”. Rusal Aughinish staff manage the Bird Sanctuary water levels to encourage optimum feeding conditions for the wintering birds that visit the Sanctuary. Scarce and rare birds at Aughinish Island include Ross’s Gull, Snow Bunting, Slavonian and Red-necked Grebe, Black Redstart and Forster’s Tern. Such peaceful co-existence with nature is a hallmark of many alumina refineries worldwide.