LIFE BAUXAL-II - Valorization towards a circular economy of Al by-products in refractory industry as alternative to CRM Bauxite

LIFE17 ENV/ES/000160

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Contact details:

Contact person: Jessica Montero
Tel: 983250600
Email: jessica.montero@befesa.com

Project description:


Energy-intensive activities including steel and aluminium production use refractory, or heat-resistant, products as protective linings in furnaces. Refractory products are produced from industrial minerals including magnesite, graphite, dolomite and bauxite. For producing melted aluminium, bauxite-based refractory castables – or bauxite moulded into bricks or other shapes – are essential.

The European Union is heavily dependent on imports of refractory industrial minerals, including bauxite. The EU imports around half a million tonnes of refractory-grade bauxite each year, mainly from China. EU importers are therefore at the mercy of (restrictive) Chinese export policies.

Bauxite could be substituted by a secondary raw material that arises in the recycling of salt slag – the residue of salt used in aluminium refining. The European aluminium industry produces one million tonnes per year of salt slag from the secondary melting of aluminium scraps. Salt slag contains salts, aluminium oxide, aluminium metal and impurities and is classified in the EU as hazardous waste. It can be treated and separated into metals and non-metal residues, from which a substitute for bauxite could be derived.


The LIFE BAUXAL-II project will set up a pilot plant and use an innovative process to transform the non-metallic concentrate which is a by-product of the recycling of aluminium salt slag into a refractory material – known as BAUXAL. This will be a suitable substitute for refractory-grade bauxites and its production will therefore reduce the EU’s reliance on imports of bauxite.

The project will demonstrate resource efficiency and contribute to the implementation of circular economy policy by replacing natural minerals with a secondary material derived from a recycling process.

Expected results:

  • Recycle 1 000 tonnes of salt slag (hazardous waste code 100308 in the European Waste Catalogue);
  • Produce at least 200 tonnes per year of the secondary refractory mineral BAUXAL from the recycled salt slag;
  • Render unnecessary the extraction of 250 tonnes of bauxite and thus avoid the associated negative environmental impacts;
  • Creation of a defined target market and business plan for BAUXAL;
  • In the longer run, 100% of the salt slag managed by Befesa (600 000 tonnes per year) will be reprocessed using the BAUXAL process, reducing EU imports of refractory-grade bauxite by 43%.



Environmental issues addressed:


Waste - Hazardous waste
Waste - Waste recycling


waste recycling‚  industrial pollution‚  hazardous waste‚  resource conservation

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Befesa Aluminio, S.L.
Type of organisation International enterprise
Description Befesa is an international industrial waste management company, able to process more than 2.5 million tonnes of waste annually. Its business unit Befesa Aluminio recycles aluminium waste, with two main business lines: production of aluminium alloys from second smelting of aluminium waste and scrap; and production of concentrated aluminium, aluminium oxides and crystallised salts from the waste that arises from aluminium recycling.
Partners Refractory Solutions Insertec SL, Sociedad Unipersonal, Spain


Project reference LIFE17 ENV/ES/000160
Duration 01-JUL-2018 to 30-JUN -2022
Total budget 1,928,407.00 €
EU contribution 1,157,044.00 €
Project location País Vasco(España) Castilla-León(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version