The MAL Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trading Company is the only company in Hungary currently mining bauxite and refining the ore to make aluminum oxide, official company data reveals.
A reservoir burst at MAL's aluminum-oxide sludge-containment reservoir in Ajka (east-central Hungary) on Monday, killing at least four people and flooding two nearby villages with toxic red sludge.
MAL sustained pre-tax losses of HUF 362 million on revenue of more than HUF 28 billion in 2009 after posting profit of HUF 413 million on revenue of HUF 43 billion in 2008.
The company mined 240,000 tons of bauxite in 2009 at its two underground and three surface mines in Hungary, and targeted extraction of 310,000 tons of bauxite in 2010.
Ákos Zoltay of the Hungarian Mining Federation told MTI that aluminum-oxide sales fell sharply following the onset of the global economic and financial crisis, though demand has rebounded recently.
MAL also imports bauxite from Montenegro and Bosnia. The company furthermore owns a 51% stake in a bauxite mine in Bosnia and signed a contract in 2008 to locate and extract 350,000 tons of bauxite at a mine in Montenegro by 2009, though the global economic and financial crisis prevented the company from carrying through with the project by the stipulated deadline. MAL expected to begin extraction of bauxite at the mine in Montenegro in 2012.
Environmental Protection State Secretary Zoltán Illés on Tuesday ordered MAL to cease production at its aluminum oxide plant in Ajka and repair the reservoir that ruptured on Monday. (MTI-Econews)