Revised water quality guideline values (WQGVs) are presented for the metals aluminium (Al), gallium (Ga) and molybdenum (Mo) in receiving marine environments. These elements are commonly found in elevated concentrations in alumina refinery waste streams, yet current WQGVs fail to accurately assess the environmental risk. Here, chronic biological effects data we have generated over the course of several years were combined with toxicity data from the open literature to construct species sensitivity distributions (SSDs) which enabled the computation of revised WQGVs for Al, Ga and Mo in marine environments. These procedures are in accordance with internationally recommended derivation procedures, and newly computed WQGVs may be incorporated in regulatory frameworks aimed at sustainable exploitation of environmental resources and ongoing protection of the marine estate. Where the available datasets allowed such distinction, separate SSDs were constructed for temperate and tropical environments and zone-specific WQGVs derived. Extrapolated from the SSDs, WQGVs of 56 μg Al L−1, 800 μg Ga L−1 and 3.88 mg Mo L−1 (in the 0.45-μm filtered fraction) for 95% species protection were recommended for implementation in both temperate and tropical receiving environments. Currently, there is insufficient validation to separate the tropical from the temperate data and in most cases, application of the generic WQGVs is recommended.