Aurubis introduces more efficient way of recycling
We have been working on perfecting the ASPA process for more than three years
Aurubis is investing 27 M€ in its Beerse site located in the Flanders Metals Valley, Belgium. The goal is to further increase the recycling efficiency and improve the recovery of various metals.
Aurubis announced the construction of a state-of-the-art recycling facility at its Beerse site in Belgium. With the hydrometallurgical facility, the company is strengthening its core business and is taking the next step towards becoming the most efficient and sustainable integrated smelter network worldwide. At the ASPA facility, anode sludge, a valuable intermediate product from electrolytic copper refining, from the recycling sites in Beerse and Lünen (Germany) will be processed. The new process will enable faster extraction of more precious metals, such as gold and silver, as well as tin from the anode sludge.
As another high-performance metal recycling site in the Aurubis smelter network, the plant in Beerse processes about 250,000 tons of multimetal scrap annually – ranging from the most complex residues to higher-grade scrap types – and produces metals, metal products, and minerals from them. Since the acquisition of the Metallo Group in 2020, Aurubis is further expanding its role as one of the world’s leading copper recycler and now processes a total of about 1 million tons of recycling materials per year in the company.
Using synergies created by Metallo acquisition
Metal recycling is a core business area for Aurubis. This is how we contribute significantly to the circular economy. With ASPA, our production in Beerse is becoming faster, more efficient, and with less valuable metal loss,
Dr. Heiko Arnold, COO of Aurubis AG, said.
The new facility is also a prime example of the synergies created by the acquisition of Metallo and how the whole company benefits in developing new innovative solutions together. ASPA uses the in-house recycling know-how of the Beerse plant and grafts it into the processes of other Aurubis plants.
Strengthening the Beerse site
With the project, Aurubis is investing € 27 million in Beerse. “We are leveraging synergies, strengthening and securing the Beerse site with ASPA. We are creating new jobs and increasing the plant’s importance for the whole Group,” Arnold explained. “Its central geographical position between the involved sites enables us to keep the transport distance of the intermediates low.”
Metal recycling is becoming increasingly complex. The number of metals in discarded electronic consumer goods – for example, smartphones or laptops – has risen sharply and the product design of the devices is becoming more intricate. Valorizing metals from this end-of-life pool in a sustainable way therefore requires special recycling skills and investment in research and development. “ASPA is taking metal recycling to the next level. We combine efficiency and speed to get even more out of it. It’s a complex process. However, recycling as many components as possible and harnessing the potential of ‘urban mining’ – which means using the city as a raw material depot – for scrap metal is crucial to closing the waste loop and catering to the increased demand for metals in a resource-efficient way,” Arnold added.
ASPA: Circular economy at its best
The development of the new state-of-the-art recycling facility proves Aurubis’ drive to innovate and to reach the goal of an independent production cycle. “We have been working on perfecting the ASPA process for more than three years,” Dirk Vandenberghe, Managing Director for Beerse, said. “This is a special and very important project for us because it allows us to get more valuable metals out of the same intermediate product and to do it faster than before.” The newly developed hydrometallurgical process significantly increases the valorization of valuable metals such as tin and precious metals. “There will be more metals that can be reused. For us, this is the circular economy at its best,” added Vandenberghe.
Detailed engineering and approval processes for ASPA are currently under way. The start of construction for the facility is planned for the second quarter of 2022 and the commissioning for early 2024.