Aurubis and SMS to expand US multi-metal recycling plant

March 28, 2023

March 28, 2023

Aurubis intends for the first module of its recycling plant to be online in 2024 (Courtesy Aurubis)
Aurubis intends for the first module of its recycling plant to be online in 2024 (Courtesy Aurubis)

Aurubis, Hamburg, Germany, and the SMS Group, Düsseldorf, are expediting the development of the recycling market for non-ferrous metals in the United States with the signing of a supply contract for a second plant module for the Aurubuis Richmond recycling plant in Georgia, USA. The modular system is intended to enable flexible operations and quick growth in the US’ dynamic recycling market.

The additional equipment purchase will increase the capacity of the metal recycling plant in Richmond, currently under construction, from an annual 90,000 tons of complex metal scrap materials to 180,000 tons per year.

“With the next expansion stage of our new site in Georgia, we are delivering on our ‘Driving Sustainable Growth’ strategy while also keeping mineral raw materials that are both strategically important and in high demand in the resource cycle,” stated Roland Harings, CEO, Aurubis.

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The SMS group recycling equipment is destined for the second module of the new Aurubis plant. The core technology, the top-blown rotary converter (TBRC), is equipment used for processing complex recycling materials so that raw materials like copper, nickel, tin, precious metals and platinum group metals can be recovered in additional downstream stages. These metals are crucial raw materials for the technologies of the future, whether for the energy transition, sustainable mobility, or digitalisation.

“By bundling the SMS group’s extensive plant know-how with Aurubis’ unique expertise in processing and raw materials, we are creating an environment for the highly efficient recovery of metals,” Harings added. “This partnership allows us to take advantage of the enormous potential of the US recycling market. The backing of a strong and reliable partner like the SMS group puts us in an excellent position for realising a project of this scope professionally and on time.”

Michael Rzepczyk, a member of the SMS executive board, stated, “We are pleased that our plants are helping Aurubis assume a leading role in multi-metal recycling in the US. With the planned doubling of the production volume at the new US site, Aurubis is taking recycling to the next level in the US. Together, we are building a more sustainable future by closing value chains and maximising the recovery of valuable metals from recycling materials.”

Modularity is a special feature of the recycling technologies used at Aurubis Richmond; additional components can be added, expanding the plant to precisely meet any future requirements. As such, Aurubis is ensuring capacity can be further expanded at any time.

“The modular system means we can plan a prudent market strategy that allows us to respond flexibly to the needs in the US,” Harings explained. “So Aurubis will benefit from the constant market growth in the US.”

For about €640 million for both phases of the project, the company is building the first secondary smelter specialising in mult-imetal recycling in the US. Groundbreaking for Aurubis Richmond took place in mid 2022, and construction is currently running at full steam. Stage one of the plant is scheduled to go online in the first half of 2024. The TBRC from the contract signed on Friday is destined for the second stage, anticipated to start production in 2026.

The investment in Georgia is said to be instrumental to Aurubis’ Sustainability Strategy; Aurubis processes roughly 1 million tons of recycling material annually, and the Aurubis Richmond recycling plant is planned to add another 180,000 tons. The investment in Georgia will not only contribute to meeting the group’s growth targets; the new plant will also comply with the highest environmental standards in the US and create around 200 new jobs.

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March 28, 2023

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