Copper recycler Aurubis has unveiled its strategy for delivering sustainable growth strategy at a ‘Capital Market Day’ in London, with particular focus on growth in the US.
‘Our Aurubis smelter network is already the most sustainable and efficient in the world today,’ Aurubis ceo Roland Harings says. ‘We will continue to strengthen our leading role through targeted, strategic investments, like the construction of a multi-metal recycling plant in the US state of Georgia [Richmond], expanding the tankhouse at our Bulgarian Pirdop site, and the Complex Recycling Hamburg project in Germany.’
Harings believes the US market has potential for strategic growth. ‘We see Aurubis Richmond as the first step along the path to becoming a fully integrated copper producer that uses recycling materials in North America as well,’ he adds. ‘Future investments in the downstream copper value chain would put us in a position to further strengthen the circular economy in the US.’
Aurubis is implementing a variety of decarbonisation projects at its sites to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030. The largest share is an expected drop in Scope 2 emissions through greater renewable energies in the electricity mix and measures to improve energy efficiency. To reduce Scope 1 emissions, the company is testing ammonia as a carbon-neutral fuel at its Hamburg wire rod plant, which it believes could avoid up to 4 000 tonnes of CO2.
Aurubis is also about to commission a pilot plant for the use of ultra-high temperature hydrolysis to extract synthetic gas and directly separate carbon from recycling materials containing carbon. The hydrolysis method could considerably reduce the amount of natural gas purchased from outside sources, lower CO2 emissions from recycling materials containing carbon, and as such reduce Scope 1 emissions and energy costs, the company says.
Aurubis adds it has achieved ‘very compelling’ results from a pilot plant for battery recycling. The company predicts that the availability of black mass (shredded batteries and large quantities of metals) will rapidly rise, in particular due to an increase in the number of used batteries available from electric vehicles – and not just in Europe.
‘This would make entering the commercial market attractive.,’ the company says. ‘The next step is to start the first commercial activities in battery recycling with a demo plant in 2024. The company has already set clear criteria for selecting a site for a commercial plant for industrial scale production starting in fiscal year 2026-27.’