Mining and refining company Glencore extracted around 45.5 tonnes of precious metals and 27 000 tonnes of copper from used electronics in 2020. The Swiss company intends to expand its electronics recycling activities in North America, according to its 2021 sustainability report.
Glencore has processed more than 1 million tonnes of e-scrap since the 90’s. This allowed it to become one of the biggest metals recycling players in the US. The metals company believes its plant in San Jose, California, is positioned to become the largest e-scrap pre-processing plant on the continent.
Glencore’s most recent figures for copper are up compared to 2019 results, when it processed 25 000 tonnes of the red metal from e-scrap. Other figures are relatively stable; the company recovered 3.8 tonnes of gold last year (compared to 3.6 tonnes), 453kg of palladium (compared to 567kg) and 142kg of platinum from e-scrap (compared to 170kg). Silver recovery remains the same, at 36.8 tonnes. The report adds that the company recovered approximately 57 000 tonnes of zinc directly from electric arc furnace (EAF) dust in 2020.
Based on the London Metal Exchange rates, the recycled metals would be worth millions, Resource Recycling observes. The value was put at approximately US$ 255 million (EUR 225 million) for copper; US$ 235 million (EUR 207 million) for gold, US$ 30 million (26.5 EUR million) for silver, US$ 28 million (EUR 25 million) for palladium, and US$ 4.7 million (EUR 4.1 million) for platinum.
Glencore has over 75 years of experience in the recycling business and actively recycles copper, nickel, cobalt, zinc and precious metals. In March 2021, Glencore helped found the Circular Electronics Partnership. The new industry-led initiative, which includes ‘some of the biggest names in tech’, aims to maximise recovery and reuse of electronics.
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