Nearly all the alumina from which aluminum metal is smelted is made from bauxite. While there is no shortage of bauxite worldwide, recent events have cast doubts on continued U.S. availability of adequate supplies at reasonable prices to meet the needs of the domestic aluminum industry. Large increases in bauxite mining taxes by members of the International Bauxite Association, coupled with demands for majority ownership of the mining companies by exporting countries, and insistence that alumina plants be built in those countries have caused a re-examination of the alumina supply situation. The cost of alumina from domestic nonbauxite resources is approaching that from bauxite by the Bayer process and it now seems worthwhile to carefully investigate the technology which would make this nation less susceptible to unilateral actions on the part of bauxite producing countries. This paper discusses the more promising alternatives to the Bayer/bauxite process, and reports on current work towards relieving this potentially critical mineral supply problem.
Min. Cong. J., V. 62, June 1976, PP. 29-32