United Company Rusal has announced it will be starting a modernisation programme of its Bratsk aluminium smelter, the world’s largest smelter, in order to reduce its environmental impact and increase its efficiency.

The total cost of the investment is US$350mn, and the first stage of the project will be completed in 2011.

Included within the programme are plans to equip reduction cells with alumina point feeders to reduce emissions, as well as the installation of 64 new reduction cells in 16 potrooms to increase the aluminium output. The electrical equipment and air supply systems will also be updated.

The aim of the project is to reduce the smelter’s environmental impact and result in the 40% reduction of the overall volume of hazardous emissions. By 2012 hydrogen fluoride emissions at the smelter will be cut by 17% and benzopyrene emissions by 30%.

Upon completion of the first stage of the project in 2011, a second phase of modernisation will be implemented at the Krasnoyarsk and Bratsk aluminium smelters. This will involve upgrading the reduction cell structure and transition from the dry anode to colloidal anode technology.