ANS: A Memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on “Technology development for holistic utilization of red mud for extraction of metallic values and residue utilization” at CSIR-IMMT, Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

The MoU was signed between R&D organizations CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (CSIR-IMMT), Bhubaneswar; CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory (CSIR-NML), Jamshedpur; Jawaharlal Nehru Aluminium Research Development and Design Centre (JNARDDC), Nagpur; and Aluminium Industries- National Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO), Hindalco Industries Ltd. and Vedanta Limited, said in a press communiqué issued by CSIR-NML Jamshedpur.

CSIR-NML, Jamshedpur is the nodal laboratory for this project of National importance. Bauxite residue (red mud) is produced in the process of alumina extraction from bauxite. Bayer’s process is the principal industrial means of processing bauxite to produce alumina (aluminium oxide).

Statistically, the production of 1-ton alumina generates 1-1.5 tons of red mud depending upon the mineralogical composition of the bauxite and extraction efficiencies. India is the fourth-largest producer of aluminium in the world with a share of around 5.3% of the global aluminium output, hence, the development of red mud’s effective handling, storage, usage and management is necessary for the welfare of the global community.

Further, bauxite mining and subsequent aluminium production is concentrated in Odisha with ~67% of the total annual production of alumina and ~64% of the annual production of aluminium in the country.

There have been scattered efforts across India on red mud’s utilization. However, a holistic utilization hasn’t been quite dealt with. Rare Earth Elements (REEs) are strategic elements crucial for sustainable energy systems. NITI Aayog has identified red mud to be one of the rich secondary sources of REEs and has recommended adopting a holistic approach for the utilization of red mud.

Thus, apart from the extraction of REEs, attempts will also be made to extract iron, alumina, and titania present in red mud. The MoU outlines the financial and technical roles of the participating industrial and R&D partners.

Prof. Suddhasatwa Basu, Director, CSIR-IMMT; Dr. Ashok Kumar Sahu, Head, Strategy Planning & Business Development, CSIR-IMMT; Sudhakara Rao K, RPBD, CSIR-NML Manasa Mishra, Director (P&T), NALCO; Subrat Kar, Group GM (Research & Development), NALCO; Rakesh Mohan, Director (Technical), VEDANTA; Rajan Babu, Head, Bauxite & Red Mud Management, Lanjigarh, VEDANTA; Ardhendu Mohapatra, Jt. President, Corporate Affairs, Hindalco Industries Ltd.;  Soubhagya Kumar Tripathy, GM, Corporate Sustainability, Hindalco Industries Ltd and Dr. Upendra Kumar Singh, Principal Scientist, JNARDDC have participated in the MoU signing, it stated.

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