Ma’aden-Alcoa Joint Venture Completes Saudi Arabia’s First Engineered Wetlands System to Treat Two Million Gallons of Wastewater Daily

May 28, 2013

System Will Conserve Water and Save More Than US$7 Million Annually at the Ma’aden-Alcoa Joint Venture Project

Alcoa (NYSE: AA) and The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden)
today announced completion of a first-of-its-kind engineered wetlands
wastewater management system in Saudi Arabia at the Ma’aden-Alcoa joint
venture project site. The newly constructed system will reduce water
demand by nearly two million US gallons (7.5 million litres) per day and
save more than US$7million (SAR 26 million) annually that would
otherwise be used to purchase fresh water.

The Alcoa-designed and engineered technology – known as a Natural
Engineered Wastewater Treatment system – collects sanitary and
industrial wastewater and then cleans and disinfects the water without
the use of chemicals or the creation of water discharge and odors
associated with conventional tank systems. The water will then be reused
in the manufacturing process and for irrigation at the Ma’aden-Alcoa
aluminum complex at Ras Al Khair. The complex includes a refinery,
smelter and rolling mill.

“Sustainable development is a core value for Ma’aden,” said Abdulaziz A.
Al Harbi, Ma’aden Aluminium’s president. “It is also a critical
component of our operating excellence that will enable Ma’aden Aluminium
to become the world’s lowest-cost producer of primary aluminum, alumina
and aluminum products, with access to growing markets in the Middle East
and beyond.”

“This innovative waste management system demonstrates the value of
combining Ma’aden’s local knowledge and expertise with the technological
depth and sustainability leadership that Alcoa brings to the
Ma’aden-Alcoa joint venture,” said Ray Kilmer, Alcoa’s Executive Vice
President and Chief Technology Officer. “Together with Ma’aden, we are
bringing to life this oasis in the desert which will safely treat and
conserve water in a way that is good for the environment and the bottom

This sustainable technology, demonstrated via full-scale deployment at
the Alcoa Technical Center near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is now being
considered for other wastewater treatment applications throughout Saudi

Alcoa technical experts developed the system to mimic the physical,
chemical and biological processes of natural wetlands. In addition to
saving water and money, the innovative design was constructed six months
faster than a conventional tank-based system and eliminated an estimated
1,000 metric tons of steel for piping and tanks. The project is expected
to be fully operational by the end of July this year.

Alcoa’s wetlands system comprises three steps including (1) an anaerobic
treatment tank which breaks down and separates organic material in the
water; (2) a passive engineered wetland that utilizes vegetation for
further treatment of organics and removal of nitrogen and metals; and
(3) a cell housing bauxite-based technology that disinfects and polishes
the water. The result is water treated to the same or better quality as
that of a conventional system.

For more information on the Ma’aden-Alcoa joint venture project visit:

About Alcoa

Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated
aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of
alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry,
Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace,
automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial
transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the
past 125 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled
products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels,
fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building
systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as
titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral
part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and
engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow
Jones Sustainability Index for 11 consecutive years and approximately 75
percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in
active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 30
countries across the world. For more information, visit,
follow @Alcoa on Twitter at
and follow Alcoa on Facebook at

About the Ma’aden Alcoa joint venture

In its initial phases, the joint venture will develop a fully integrated
industrial complex which will become the world’s preeminent and
lowest-cost producer of primary aluminum, alumina and aluminum products,
with access to the growing markets of the Middle East and beyond. The
complex comprises:

  • A bauxite mine with an initial capacity of 4,000,000 metric tons per
  • An alumina refinery with an initial capacity of 1,800,000 metric tons
    per year
  • An aluminum smelter with an initial capacity of 740,000 metric tons
    per year
  • A rolling mill with initial capacity of 380,000 metric tonnes per
    year. It will be the first in the Middle East capable of producing
    food grade can sheet, as well as sheet for automotive, building and
    construction applications. Upon completion, the mill will be one of
    the most technically-advanced mills in the world.

Kelly Pasterick, +1 (212) 836-2674
Artur Tarnowski, +966 (1) 874 8124
Christa Bowers, +1 (212) 836-2605
Aqeel M. Alonazi, (966) 11 874 8045