ALUM uses red mud to turn acid soils into fertile ones, proper for agricultural purposes

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 10:58
  • The on-field studies conducted at Agricultural Research Station Albota-Pitești, Argeș County, with the support of ICPA Bucharest showed good results in corn growing on acid soils

  • The programme is part of the Company’s strategy to identify solutions to convert the red mud into a commercially usable product

  • The alumina refinery implemented a complex modernization plan for the red mud storage, with positive impact on the environment

Tulcea, 20 September 2018 – ALUM S.A. (BSE, ATS segment - AeRO: BBGA) the only calcined alumina producer in Romania, continues its programme to convert red mud into a commercially usable product, succeeding in neutralization of acidic soils and to increase the productivity of growing crops.

“Since we started the modernization process in Alum, we looked for best solutions not only to increase productivity, but also to reduce the ecological footprint of the alumina refinery”,said Gheorghe Dobra, CEO ALUM. “Besides the significant investments done in upgrading the red mud storage, we looked for solutions to use this by-product in other industries, such as metallurgy, constructions or agriculture. We are pleased to share with you the latest results obtained by using the red mud in agriculture: both production and quality of the crops reported increased results where red mud was used, while the soil quality was significantly improved”, added Gheorghe Dobra.

The National Institute for Research and Development for Soil Science, Agro-Chemistry and Environmental Protection (ICPA Bucharest) conducts the on-field studies to determine the impact of red mud usage on damaged acid soils and, therefore the experiments were done at Agricultural Research Station Albota-Pitești, Argeș Countyon an albic luvisol, meaning a typical acid soil with moderate pH and inappropriate agrochemical properties from the perspective of intensive agriculture.

This multi-stage research-programme consisted in an experiment where various quantities of red mud were combined with organic and chemical fertilizers in different scenarios regarding the quantities used and the results in corn growing were compared from a production process and plant growth point of view. The researchers looked at two main indicators: soil alkalinity and plants response to applied treatments. The usage of red mud on moderate acid soils increases the alkalinity of the soil, making it proper for plants growth. Alum’s by-product also proved to be efficient in terms of corn production. Thus, the usage of red mud contributes to rises in plants waist, green mass and dried mass, as well as in significant gains in vegetal mass and in cobs and grains yield. Moreover, red mud application to such acid soils is very effective for reducing the phosphorus leaching, ameliorates soil acidity and above all reduces the heavy metals availability in the soil by their ionic adsorption on the surface of the red mud particles.

Investigations and the research work about red mud variable composition were started by Alum in 2011, and during the past, a good experience was accumulated regarding this subject. From the beginning the aim of the Company was to find new technologies to convert the red mud obtained from the bauxite processing process into a commercial-viable product (i.e. adjuvant for acid soils or as a major component in artificial soils used for remediation and landscape architecture). Moreover, during the recent years, several monitoring services, research works and laboratory tests were performed in respect of red mud storage and usage, by prestigious research institutes in Romania, such as ICIM Bucharest (Research Institute of the Ministry of Environment), ECOIND Bucharest, IMNR Bucharest, IPROCHIM S.A. Bucharest etc.

Alum implements various environmental-related projects, including the modernization of the red mud storage, started in 2009. At that time, the red mud storage underwent a modernization and technological upgrade programme. Subsequently, Alum allocated USD 500,000 annually for its maintenance in accordance with environmental regulations. Alum consolidated the dykes, implemented a partial ecological closure in the main dam area. In addition, trees were planted,a rainwater collector was in place and the channel for flood prevention was diverted, as well as implementation of a water spray system for wetting the surface of the red mud against dusting and a ground water quality monitoring system.

For further information, please contact:

Florența Ghiță


Phone: +40 744 644 004




ALUM is the only Romanian producer of calcined alumina, used for the production of aluminium and has an alumina refinery with a production capacity of 600,000 tonnes of alumina per year. The alumina produced by the Company is supplied both on the domestic market to ALRO S.A., part of the Vimetco Group, and internationally. ALUM’s shares have been traded on the Bucharest Stock Exchange since 1997.

ALRO Group

ALRO S.A. and its subsidiaries are collectively referred to as ''ALRO Group'' or ''the Group''. The companies part of ALRO Group are: Alro S.A. – the aluminium producer, Alum S.A. – the alumina producer, Sierra Mineral Holdings I, Ltd. – the bauxite mining company, Vimetco Extrusion S.R.L. – extrusion processing business line, Conef S.A. – Alro share portfolio management, Global Aluminium Ltd. – holding entity and Bauxite Marketing Ltd. Having this structure, the Group created an integrated production chain, assuring the raw materials for ALRO.

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