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Non-ferrous slag recycling plant coming to Romania

Greek holding Mytilineos has announced that it will invest EUR 33.8 million (US$40 million) to build a slag processing and recycling plant in Romania, where it owns a lead and zinc smelter.

The new facility will be built next to the existing non-ferrous metal plant Sometra, at Copsa Mica, in central Romania. According to Mytilineos, the new investment will allow its Sometra branch to recycle the slag accumulated over 70 years under new environmental conditions.

Technology at the planned facility will allow ‘organic recycling and slag transformation’ into two categories of valuable products: Waelz zinc oxides and Waelz clinker.

Non-ferrous hub ‘economically feasible’

‘Following a US$3 million investment in research and development, we came to the conclusion that it is possible and economically feasible to remove slag waste and turn it into export and domestic products,’ said Christos Efstathiadis, general manager at Sometra. ‘The plan is to start operations in 2019 for slag processing and internal recycling using our own resources.’

Mytilineos estimates that it will take about 13 years to completely recycle the accumulated slag. The strategy is ultimately to establish the new facility as a ‘supplier of recycling services for other industrial facilities in Romania’.

More recycling, more jobs

Mytilineos is one of Greece’s leading industrial companies, with activities in metallurgy, electric power and gas trading. Sometra was launched back in 1939, and currently employs 25 workers. An additional 50 jobs will be created once the necessary environmental permit allows construction to start. This development comes after a period of reduced activity, sparked by the 2009 economic crisis that hit the recycling industry in Romania hard.

Waste management in Romania

Some 4.895 million tonnes of municipal waste were generated at national level in 2015, according to most recent Eurostat data. This represents around 247 kg per inhabitant per year, which compares to the EU average of 476 kg per inhabitant per year.

A total of 72% of this material was landfilled, while approximately 6% was recycled. The rest was either composted or incinerated. The government has indicated it wants to reduce landfilling practices in favour of materials recycling and incineration.

Incidentally, Copsa Mica was known as as one of the most polluted cities in Europe in the early 90s due to decades of unrestricted emissions from heavy industry.

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