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Sustainability of the Indian Aluminium Industry: Challenges and Opportunities
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Sustainability is at the core of economic viability of global aluminium industry today. The sustainability model being discussed, is based on a three pronged approach of Responsible Stewardship, Stakeholder Engagement and Future Proofing. The key emphasis is on balanced business performance on 3Ps-People, Planet and Profit, through adoption of sustainable business practices. Primary aluminium production processes are energy intensive and usually associated with high level of fossil fuel consumption and thereby, high greenhouse gas emissions. An improved energy efficiency is essential for the aluminium industry, both from an economic and environmental point of view. Production of this metal is also associated with consumption of large volume of natural resources, bauxite ore and coal and generation of large quantities of solid wastes. In India, about 5-6 tonnes of bauxite ore and 10-14 tonnes of coal are consumed for production of 1 tonne of aluminium. Also, the process is associated with generation of about 2-3 tonnes of bauxite residue and 2-5 tonnes of coal ash per tonne of aluminium production. The other solid wastes generated are spent pot liners, aluminium dross etc. Conservation of these natural resources and safe disposal and management of such large volume of wastes are the major challenges to the industry. At the same time, the industry should seriously explore converting these challenges into opportunities through creation of wealth from the wastes. Other sustainability challenges include land management, community service, biodiversity, water conservation and new product and application developments. As a part of future proofing exercise, Hindalco has identified "Energy & Emissions" and "Value from Wastes" as the two major thrust areas. In this paper, some of the technology initiatives undertaken at Hindalco for addressing these issues will also be discussed.

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