Scientists have reported that experiments in making steel from red sludge, a by-product of producing aluminium, offers a solution to environmental problems in the bauxite-alumina project in the Central Highlands.

The announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai during a visit to a factory in Hai Phong city where the industrial-scale experiment was carried out.

The tests involved the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) and the Thai Hung Company.

The academy said red sludge, or red mud, a toxic by-product of the production of alumina from bauxite contained high amounts of iron. They added that this could give Vietnam an advantage in steel production.

The report also said that a batch of steel refined from red mud met the strict standards set for Japanese SD 390 steel.

Nguyen Van Tuan, director of Thai Hung Company, said 2.4 tonnes of dry red mud could produce a tonne of iron ore.

Vu Duc Loi, deputy director of the Institute of Chemistry, said experiments would be completed by June and that the research team could then start feasibility studies on production.

Assessing the result of the trial project, Professor Nguyen Van Hieu, a leading scientist, said the project was a breakthrough in various ways, including opening up a path for more sustainable bauxite development.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai praised test results, saying they would help provide solutions to environmental degradation around the mining sites in the Central Highlands.

Hai aksed relevant parties to continue their research, adding that the Government would consider supporting the project with appropriate policies.-VNA