Aurubis and SMS group forge ahead with the first multimetal recycling plant in the US

Pressemitteilung | Reading time: min | Bildquelle: Aurubis
  • Supply contract for second plant module at new Aurubis Richmond recycling plant in Georgia signed as part of strategic partnership
  • Modular system allows for flexible operations and quick growth in dynamic US recycling market
  • Aurubis investment closes essential raw material cycles

Bundling know-how, fully exploiting synergies, and entering a new market: Multimetal producer and copper recycler Aurubis AG and Düsseldorf-based plant and machine manufacturer SMS group GmbH are expediting the development of the recycling market for non-ferrous metals in the US. Last Friday, the two companies took the next step in their strategic partnership in the global multimetal recycling sector, and signed a supply contract for a second plant module for the new Aurubis Richmond recycling plant in the US state of Georgia.

Aurubis is considerably accelerating its growth course in the future recycling and circular economy market. The additional equipment 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,” Aurubis CEO Roland Harings said, “while also keeping mineral raw materials that are both strategically important and in high demand in the resource cycle.”

The SMS group recycling equipment is destined for the second module of the new Aurubis plant in the US. The core technology, the top-blown rotary converter (TBRC), is state-of-the-art 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 digitalization.

“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 said. “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 realizing a project of this scope professionally and on time.”

“We are pleased that our plants are helping Aurubis assume a leading role in multimetal 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,” Michael Rzepczyk, a member of the SMS Executive Board, said. “Together, we are building a more sustainable future by closing value chains and maximizing 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 requriments. As such, Aurubis is not only securing its role as a forerunner in the US recycling market; it is also 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," Aurubis CEO Harings explained. “So Aurubis will benefit from the constant market growth in the US."

Aurubis is blazing a trail with the new recycling plant in the US: for about € 640 million for both phases of the project, the company is building the first secondary smelter specializing in multimetal recycling in the US, thus making a targeted investment in expanding its recycling business. 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 instrumental to Aurubis’ Sustainability Strategy: As a leader in multimetal recycling, Aurubis processes roughly 1 million tons of recycling material annually. The Aurubis Richmond recycling plant will 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. “Economic growth and comprehensive corporate responsibility go hand in hand for us,” Harings added.