General view taken on October 8, 2010 of the MangeGarri site in Gardanne where bauxite residues producing red sludge are stored in solid form -


  • In a month, the Marseille commercial court will look into the future of Alteo, in receivership.

  • The storage of its "red mud", particularly controversial, seems to block the buyers.

  • However, according to employees, if the future buyer abandons this part of the activity considered by some to be polluting, hundreds of jobs could be lost.

Should we save jobs, without worrying about the ecological damage attributed to an industrial activity considered by some to be highly polluted and polluting, or favor environmental protection, at the risk according to others of eliminating hundreds of jobs?

The equation seems insoluble, but it is nevertheless the one which arises in short to the prefect of Bouches-du-Rhône in the Altéo file, placed in receivership last December.

World leader in the production of alumina, this plant located in Gardanne, infamous for its “red mud”, is looking for a buyer.

The key: the survival of one of the largest employers in the region, with 511 employees.

Eight candidates are on the starting line and will be examined by the commercial court on October 15.

The catch?

As revealed by Marsactu, the majority of these takeover offers favor the abandonment of a flagship activity of the company, the processing of bauxite, also known as “red mud”, currently stored on the Mange-Garri site.

And for good reason: the prefectural decree authorizing the very controversial storage of these bauxite residues on this site near Marseille expires next June.

"The future of our company is in his hands"

This storage is, in fact, at the heart of a judicial investigation opened in March 2019, while environmental associations denounce in particular the flight of red dust laden with arsenic and mercury.

And potential buyers, for the time being, do not know what future the State intends to give to this site which is the subject of much controversy.

One of them even underlines that the “sustainability” of the company is “weakened by heavy environmental uncertainties”.

In this more than tense context, all eyes are now on the State, in particular its local representative, the Prefect Christophe Mirmand.

"The future of our company is in his hands", even goes so far as to say Bruno Arnoux.

The secretary of the social and economic committee of the company was invited to a meeting on Tuesday with the prefect to discuss the future of Alteo, one month before the hearing before the commercial court.

“What we demand are state guarantees for the visibility of jobs.

At the very least, we are asking for a strong sign from the state to authorize the exploitation of Mange-Garri for eighteen months.

If we can no longer operate this site, it will have an impact on

at least

200 employees



"The ecological catastrophe continues"

At the same time, in a kind of remote communication war, the mayor of Bouc-Bel-Air, next to the storage site, organized a press conference to reaffirm his opposition to a prolonged exploitation of Mange-Garri, a synonym, according to him, of "discharge of thousands of tons of red mud and dangerous pollutants".

"What is no longer thrown at sea is on land," writes the city councilor in a press release, "and contrary to what the leaders of Alteo suggest, the ecological disaster continues.

»The mayor proposes, instead of the current site….

a nautical leisure base around a surf park.

Not sure, however, that such a project will silence the wave of concern from environmental associations.

“If the bauxite activity stops, who will pay for the decontamination of the site, is alarmed for his part Pierre Aplincourt of France Nature Environnement 13. What does the State say?

Today, we are unable to say.


Contacted by

20 Minutes

 to know their official position on this file, neither the prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhône, nor the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition responded to our requests.

However, as reported by

20 Minutes

, on September 4, on the occasion of an inauguration by Alteo of a new treatment plant for its liquid discharges at sea, the sub-prefect of Aix-en-Provence was could not be clearer.

"So yes, nothing will be simple, but we will ensure, particularly in the context of the requests filed to prosecute Mange-Garri over 30 years, to support the process," said Serge Gouteyron.

And according to

Le Monde

, the administrators of the commercial court in charge of the Alteo file have asked the buyers who exclude the resumption of the bauxite processing activity, which justifies the existence of the Mange-Garri site, to review their copy. .

"The arbitration will be done in very high places"

“In terms of guarantees, the prefect did not give us much, regrets Bruno Arnoux, however.

He will talk to the Minister of the Environment.

But we know that arbitration will be done in very high places.

We therefore asked to be able to meet the Prime Minister in order to be able to present our arguments.

"A renewal of operation of Mange-Garri will allow the President of the Republic to have saved employment, a few months before the presidential elections, in defiance of his many promises in favor of the environment", accuses for his part Richard Mallié.

It should be remembered that in a previous highly controversial arbitration on the red mud dossier which then opposed Bercy to the Minister of the Environment, it was the Minister of the Economy at the time, a certain Emmanuel Macron, who had won the case with Matignon….


Bouches-du-Rhône: What does Alteo's new treatment unit look like, which ensures discharges at sea that are 100% compliant with standards?


Bouches-du-Rhône: The uncertain future of the Gardanne coal-fired power station

  • Legal redress

  • Employment

  • Red mud

  • Economy