Authors: Williams, L; Williams, J; Evans, K; Leclerc, D

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Williams, L, Williams, J, Evans, K & Leclerc, D 2022, 'An innovative approach to bauxite residue site remediation: a case study reviewing the dewatering, reprofiling and revegetation of a closed bauxite residue site in Jamaica', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & G Boggs (eds), Mine Closure 2022: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 557-574,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Following the divestment of its alumina refineries in Jamaica, Rio Tinto agreed to close and revegetate some closed bauxite residue storage sites prior to returning the land ownership to the Government of Jamaica. The most challenging area to be restored was a dammed valley which contained approximately 2 million m3 of high pH water (pH 12) over a 60 m deep deposit of bauxite residue tailings from the nearby Ewarton alumina refinery. The site was approximately 40 ha in size and located in an area with no mains power and subject to severe cyclonic rainfall events. This paper describes the option analysis review, the trials undertaken and work at Kirkvine, the water treatment approach and disposal, reprofiling to allow suitable drainage, and the revegetation stages. The hilly nature of the terrain meant that there was no readily available topsoil to use as a covering over bauxite residue for revegetation. Instead, the high pH, highly sodic bauxite residue material was converted into a material that provided a sustainable plant growth medium. The soil conditioning to achieve a suitable medium was especially challenging. The project started in 2006 and the revegetation phase started in 2016. The paper describes in detail the current status of the vegetative species that are now growing and also reviews the diversity of fauna that have already colonised the site. A major aspect of the work was close cooperation at all stages with the key regulators in Jamaica, especially the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, and the local community.

Keywords: bauxite residue, red mud, dewatering, remediation, closure, Jamaica

Adams, CD & Lawrence, WA 1972, A Report on the Adventive Vegetation of Some Red Mud Ponds at Alcan Jamaica Limited, Department of Botany, University of the West Indies, Kingston.
Adams, CD & Ramjus, HA 1975, Second Report on the Adventive Vegetation of Some Red Mud Ponds at Alcan Jamaica Limited, Department of Botany, University of the West Indies, Kingston.
Avery, QD, Bach, M, Beaulieu, S, Cooling, D, Evans, KA & Schoenbrunn, F 2022, ‘Review of bauxite residue’, Smelter Grade Alumina from Bauxite, Springer, Berlin.
Barrow, NJ 1982, ‘Possibility of using caustic residue from bauxite for improving the chemical and physical properties of sandy soils’, Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, vol. 33, pp. 275–285.
Bennett, AC & Dickens, R 1974, Reclamation of Sodium-Affected Waste from the Aluminium Extraction Process, report to the Alcoa Foundation.
Bucher, MA 1985, The Effects of Gypsum and Sewage Sludge on Plant Growth and Nutrition on Alkaline, Saline, Fine-Textured Bauxite Residue, MSc thesis, Duke University, Durham.
Clancy, D 2013, ‘Bauxite residue partial neutralisation via mud farming’, Proceedings of the 31st International Conference and Exhibition of ICSOBA, The International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium.
Edwards, T 1991, Adventive Vegetation of Mature Red Mud Ponds at Alcan Jamaica Limited, Department of Botany, University of the West Indies, Kingston.
Evans, KA 2016, ‘The history, challenges, and new developments in the management and use of bauxite residue, Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy, vol. 2, pp. 1–16.
Lyew-Ayee, PA, Persaud, SD, Evans, KA & Tapp, RG 2011, ‘From red to green – a Regulators and Company partnership in bauxite residue remediation’, Proceedings of the Bauxite Residue Seminar of ICSOBA.
Marschner, B 1983, The Reclamation of Fine-Textured Bauxite Residues Using Alkaline and Aluminium-Tolerant Grasses with Organic and Chemical Amendments, MSc Thesis, Duke University, Durham.
Meecham, JR & Bell, LC 1977, ‘Revegetation of Alumina Refinery Wastes II. Glasshouse Experiments’, Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandy, vol. 17, pp. 689–696.
Nelson, EDP 1981, Factors Influencing Growth of Three Grasses on Alkaline Bauxite Residues (Red Mud), MSc thesis, , Duke University, Durham.
O’Callaghan, WB, McDaniel, SC, Richards, DM & Reid, RE 1998, ‘Development of a topsoil-free vegetative cover on a former red mud disposal site’, International Workshop on Reclamation and Rehabilitation of Mined-out Lands and Red Mud Disposal Ponds, Kingston.
Webber, D, Rose, P, Azan, S & Doctor, L 2011, Vegetation Inventory of Kirkvine Pond 6 at Alcan Alumina and Bauxite Group Jamaica Limited, University of the West Indies, Kingston.
Wong, JWC & Ho, GE 1991, ‘Effects of gypsum and sewage sludge amendment on physical properties of fine bauxite refining residue’, Soil Science, vol. 152, no. 5, pp. 326–332.
Wong, JWC & Ho, GE 1992, ‘Viable techniques for direct revegetation of fine bauxite refining residue’, Proceedings International Bauxite Tailings Workshop, The Australian Bauxite and Alumina Producers, Perth, pp. 258–269.
Wong, JWC & Ho, GE 1993, ‘Sewage sludge as organic ameliorants for revegetation of bauxite refining residue’, Proceedings of the International Conference on Environmental Biotechnology for Waste Treatment and Recycling, Hong Kong.

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to