Enter “Red Mud”

Once in a while, when scrubbing out a pot at the sink, I wonder if it’s true that using aluminum pots contributes to Alzheimer’s  Disease.

Not since High School, perhaps, have I spared a thought to how Aluminum was made. Never did I wonder about the waste that might be produced in the process. Not that is, until I started following the story of Hungary’s red mud flood.

Then I hunted up the production process.

“The largest waste product generated in bauxite refining is the tailings (ore refuse) called “red mud.” . .It contains some useful substances, like iron, titanium, soda, and alumina, but no one has been able to develop an economical process for recovering them. . .Most refineries simply collect the red mud in an open pond that allows some of its moisture to evaporate; when the mud has dried to a solid enough consistency, which may take several years,it is covered with dirt or mixed with soil.”
I looked up “Aluminum smelters.” Our good friend Wikipedia lists 150 plus major smelters world wide.  Hungary doesn’t even get a mention. Canada has eleven listed.
So how many acres of alkaline, heavy metal laced mud, dried and covered by concealing earth, or cubic meters of liquid red waste corralled in tailing ponds do we have here at home, one wonders?
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