Alcoa Reestablishing an Ecosystem in Australia, One Million Plants at a Time

September 14, 2009

NEW YORK--Alcoa’s (NYSE:AA) Australia Operations have been recognized by national and international organizations as a world leader in mine site rehabilitation for its long term management of the ecosystem. Once again, Alcoa has demonstrated its leadership after growing its one millionth plant at its state-of-the-art laboratory near Perth, Australia.

Mine site rehabilitation is a complex and scientific process and some plant species, which need to be returned to the land during rehabilitation, needed a helping hand, according to Manager of Mines Bill Knight.

“There are several ways plants can be returned to rehabilitation, but some plant species do not produce viable seed, or if they do it is difficult to collect, and some don’t readily germinate - these are what we call ‘recalcitrant’ species and they need to be grown in a nursery in a process called ‘tissue culture,” Knight said

Alcoa’s Marrinup Nursery, south of Perth, includes a tissue culture laboratory which has been successfully restoring a high diversity of plant species for mine site rehabilitation - no other mining company in the world has comparable facilities.

“Tissue culture is essentially growing plant shoots in a sterile, controlled, environment usually in sealed jars. The plant shoots are grown on media which contains nutrients for plant growth; minerals, amino acids, vitamins, hormones, sugar and water – all set in a jelly called agar,” Knight said.

“Every four weeks the plant material is divided and placed into fresh agar and within a few months thousands of plants can be produced.”

Alcoa was the first mining company in the world to achieve 100 percent plant species richness in our rehabilitated mine site areas in Western Australia. The company’s rehabilitation objective is to re-establish a functional ecosystem that will fulfill the pre-mining forest land uses including conservation, timber production, water catchment and recreation.

Since 1994, the one million tissue cultured plants have gone into over 6,537 hectares of mine rehabilitation at Alcoa’s Huntly Mine near Dwellingup and its Willowdale Mine. Alcoa’s Marrinup has been operating since 1980. For more about bauxite mining rehabilitation visit:

About Alcoa

Alcoa is the world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina combined, through its active and growing participation in all major aspects of the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other capabilities of Alcoa's businesses to customers. In addition to aluminum products and components including flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, Alcoa also markets Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems. The Company has been named one of the top most sustainable corporations in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for eight consecutive years. Alcoa employs approximately 63,000 people in 31 countries across the world. More information can be found at

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