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Getting ready for the EV-battery wave

The Ore Mountains along the German-Czech border are home to Nickelhütte Aue (NHA), a EUR 200- plus million turnover multi metals recycler that handles everything from scrap metal to precious metals. Among its specialties are complex scrap and residues. To that end, by 2026 the company will have invested EUR 15 million doubling its current EV battery recycling capacity, says managing director Henry Sobieraj.

‘Recycling is so exciting, I really love my job,’ says Henry Sobieraj over a quick lunch at NHA’s company canteen. ‘See what’s happening in the field of lithium battery recycling. Eight, ten years ago this was a silver lining on the horizon and our R&D team put a lot of effort in.’

‘Look where we are now,’ he adds. ‘At our plant, we can currently handle up to 7 000 tonnes of batteries, and that’s only the beginning. With huge volumes of electric vehicle (EV) batteries rolling in over the coming years, the best is yet to come and we’ll be prepared.’

FOCUS ON RECYCLING

NHA is Jacob Metal Group’s recycling operation in Aue-Bad Schlema in the east of Germany, an hour by car from Dresden. Founded in the 17th century, it is believed to be among the oldest companies in Europe’s metal industry. During the first 200 years it focused on bleu dye based on cobalt, followed by the production of nickel, nickel concentrates, and chemicals.

Change came after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, when NHA was privatised and taken over by Jacob Metal Group. This kicked off a new era with a major focus on recycling. ‘Today more than 95% of what we produce is based on recycling,’ says Sobieraj. ‘We recover, recycle, smelt, refine. We recycle non-ferrous scrap, precious metals, dusts, residues, sludges.

Products coming in include: converters, fuel cells, transformers, industrial catalysts from chemical plants, switch gears, batteries. We recycle materials from a wide range of industrial sectors such as foundry and semi-finished producers, the chemical and petrochemical industry, the petroleum refining industry, the food and cosmetics industry and the pharmaceutical industry.’

SAMPLE CHECKPOINT

The total annual input of materials handled amounts some 90 000 tonnes. Scrap, residue and waste coming in and material going out are checked in Nickelhütte’s sampling department. The company also has its own R&D division.

‘Thanks to our in-house laboratory and state-of-the-art technologies, we prepare individual metals at high purity making…

This article is part of a company profile about Jacob Metals Group. To read the entire feature simply download the PDF – free of charge!

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