VTI 1.27% 39.0¢ visioneering technologies inc.


  1. 3,176 Posts.

    HOMEX - Brisbane

    Virotec International Ltd (ASX/AIM: VTI) announces that it has the
    worldwide marketing and distribution rights to a newly invented
    process, to be known as Basecon(TM) technology, which is registered
    and patent applied for worldwide, and has been successfully
    demonstrated at alumina refineries in North American and Europe.

    In essence, Basecon(TM) technology provides the alumina industry
    with an economic incentive to neutralise bauxite residue (red mud) in
    such a way that it is no longer caustic thus eliminating the
    industry's long term waste liability.

    Executive Chairman Brian Sheeran states, "It is impossible to imagine
    a world without alumimum, yet the industry faces constant challenges.
    Basecon(TM) technology gives the alumina industry a 'walkaway'
    solution to hundreds of millions of tons of caustic bauxite residue
    currently stored in containment ponds, and tons of millions of tons
    of caustic bauxite residue produced annually. The Directors believe
    Basecon(TM) technology is a significant breakthrough that will
    benefit the alumina industry throughout the world."

    Basecon(TM) technology was invented by Virotec scientists (led by
    Professor Dave McConchie) and is covered by existing licensing
    arrangements. It will be marketed world-wide to the alumina industry,
    commencing with the 6th International Alumina Quality Workshop to be
    held in Brisbane, Australia, on September 8-13 2002, where Professor
    David McConchie is an invited speaker.

    Virotec will be seeking to license Basecon(TM) technology to alumina
    companies. When applied to the Bayer process (which is used by the
    alumina industry worldwide) Basecon(TM) technology eliminates the
    need to store a caustic bauxite residue.

    Furthermore, the Basecon(TM) technology can be applied to caustic
    residue that is currently stored in containment ponds, enabling
    immediate, effective and complete environmental remediation. Virotec
    Global Solutions Pty Ltd (Virotec's operations company) will be
    seeking to enter into contracts to undertake this remediation.

    Basecon(TM) technology is not subject to geographic factors. Unlike
    current seawater neutralisation, it can be employed by refineries
    that are not located near the coast.

    Basecon(TM) technology is also economically accessible. In order to
    implement current seawater neutralisation, large amounts of seawater
    are required (typically between 12 and 18 times the volume of red mud
    to be neutralised) if the discharge water is to meet normal
    environmental standards and large ponds are required to allow the
    solids to settle before the calcium and magnesium depleted seawater
    used in the neutralisation process can be returned to the sea. These
    limitations, which Basecon(TM) technology overcomes, add substantial
    economic and environmental barriers to adopting seawater

    Virotec's motivation for pursuing the Basecon (TM) technology was to
    develop cheaper and faster methods for producing Bauxsol(TM) raw
    material to enable increased manufacture of Virotec's environmental
    reagents. Bauxsol(TM) raw material is bauxite refinery residue that
    has been neturalised and prepared to Virotec's exact specifications,
    so that it has characteristics that make it a suitable ingredient for
    environmental reagents, and safe to store and transport.

    Basecon(TM) technology economically converts basicity (mainly sodium
    hydroxide) and soluble alkalinity (mainly sodium carbonate) into
    alkalinity that is retained as low solubility hydroxide, carbonate or
    hydroxyearbonate minerals. After minor additional treatment, the
    spent neutralising fluid can be safely discharged to the sea or
    retained in an evaporating basin for salt recovery.

    Because of the variability in ores, each alumina plant is almost
    tailored to suit a particular bauxite. Virotec's Basecon(TM)
    technology provides a geochemical computer model that allows rapid
    calculation of neutralisation requirements for ANY initial red mud
    alkalinity, ANY solids load in the residue and the composition of a
    wide range of cost effective, readily available neutralising agents,
    (including, but not limited to, seawater, saline or hard groundwater
    brines, salt lake bines, industrial waste brines). The computer model
    can be applied to any alumina refinery in the world, providing it with
    the most cost-effective method to neutralise refinery residue and to
    make available to Virotec reusable raw material.

    The Directors believe that the implications for the alumina industry
    are significant. For decades, the alumina industry has been
    investigating options for treating, disposing, and using bauxite
    residue, a by-product of the Bayer process to extract aluminium oxide
    from bauxite ore. The sheer volumes of residue waste generated,
    together with the cost of treatment and handling, have been the
    primary issues affecting its use in beneficial applications. The
    worldwide alumina industry produces over 70 million dry metric tons
    of bauxite residue annually and Australia is the largest alumina
    refiner in Ore world, producing around 30% of the total alumina.

    In the Bayer process, the bauxite is crashed and ground, their mixed
    with a solution of caustic soda and pumped into large autoclaves.
    There, under pressure and at a temperature of 110 degrees C to 270
    degrees C, the alumina contained in the ore is dissolved to form
    sodium aluminate. The silica in the bauxite reacts and precipitates
    from solution as sodium-aluminium-silicate. The remaining residue
    settles out of solution and is separated from the sodium aluminate
    solution, washed to recover the caustic soda, and pumped to large
    surface impoundments or lagoons.

    However, washing does not ensure the complete recovery of the caustic
    aluminate, which is the cause of the alkalinity of the residue (a pH
    that is usually greater than 13.0 and often about 13.5) that is
    pumped into the lagoons. Naturally, there are concerns with the
    potential for groundwater contamination with large alkaline residue,
    even with clay liners, some leakage may occur. To date, any area
    dedicated to be a disposal area has limited future land use.

    Some disposal areas spread over thousands of acres.

    By an act of the United States Congress some high-volume mining
    wastes in the United States, including bauxite residue, have been
    designated as non-hazardous because they are being safely stored in
    the lagoons. However, there is no guarantee that this designation
    will remain unchanged in the future.

    Subsequently, the alumina industry has openly declared that it faces
    challenges related to the storage of residue. These include:

    Product liability
    Potentially high life-cycle costs of future disposal and monitoring
    Uncertainty (and probably under-estimation) about total costs of
    residue disposal

    Large volumes of long-term, non-usable wastes
    Highly caustic material
    Potential for reclassification as a hazardous waste at some future
    Potential for leaching/rainwater penetration
    Perception of wastes as hazards
    Tighter environmental regulations in the future
    Potential groundwater contamination
    Future requirements precluding abandonment
    Unlikeliness of "walkaway" situation

    Virotec believes potential costs and liabilities can best be reduced
    by not having to store a caustic residue. The neutralised residue
    produced using Basecon (TM) technology is not only environmentally
    harmless, it is also fairly easy to rehabilitate and consequently,
    whether it is roused or not, the long term management costs are
    substantially reduced.

    However, the Directors believe the issue is how best to make bauxite
    refinery residue reusable and not how best to store or dispose of it.
    Virotec has a well established need for appropriately neutralised
    residue that can be used as the starting material to produce its
    range of marketable environmental management and remediation products
    and all available information suggests that environmental management
    and remediation products provide the best currently available option
    for nursing large volumes of refinery residue. Potentially, these
    products could consume the tens of millions of tons of residue that
    are produced annually.

    Executive Chairman Brian Sheeran concludes "In recent years,
    Aluminium companies have joined together to work cooperatively on the
    common problem of treating bauxite refinery residue. By leveraging
    their resources and knowledge, the companies have identified that
    they could develop economical solutions faster than they could by
    acting independently.

    Virotec also has a stake in a positive outcome.

    With the Bauxsol (TM) Technology Virotec has identified technical,
    environmental and Financial drivers that will open up significant,
    diverse markets for the use of millions of tons of alumina refinery
    residue on a global basis. With the Basecon (TM) technology, Virotec
    is saying to the alumina industry, we want to be a meaningful
    proactive partner to assist and support the industry for the long

    For further information go to www.virotec.com

    Or contact
    Angus Craig
    Virotec International Ltd

    +61 755 308 014
    [email protected]

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