Study of a Bauxite Slurry Pipeline from Vietnams Highlands to the Coast

Author(s): T. Quoc-Khanh, L. Quoc Hung
International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium Conference (ICSOBA), 30 October 2012 At ICSOBA-2012 Belem, Brazil.

Abstract

Vietnam’s bauxite resources are mainly found in the Highlands region, which is also home to the upper catchment areas of some of Vietnam’s most significant river systems. The location of alumina refineries in the Highlands region with their associated residue disposal facilities raises serious environmental concerns. The tropical climate zone brings periods of intense monsoonal rainfall that need to be contained and managed. The likelihood and impact of fugitive dust emissions, ground water contamination, or discharge of contaminated water streams must be minimized. The existing infrastructure for transportation of raw materials, refinery supplies and product alumina to and from the refinery is also limited. Therefore, potential investors will have to pay high costs to minimize the environmental risks and to upgrade and improve transport infrastructure in order to build and operate their refineries in the Highlands.

One potential solution to these problems is to locate future alumina refineries closer to the coast some distance from the mines and beneficiation plants in the Highlands. In coastal locations, residue disposal can be safely neutralized and stored using sea water and alumina product can easily be transported to a nearby port.
A Vietnamese alumina project has been proposed to build a mine and beneficiation plant in the Highlands (K’Bang, Gia Lai) and the refinery close to the coast (Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh). The connection between the two plants will be via a bauxite slurry pipeline.

This paper describes the technical aspects of the pipeline design, operating and control philosophy, maintenance, and capital and operating cost.