American Zinc Recycling Corp. (AZR), Pittsburgh, plans to restart its Mooresboro, North Carolina, plant in late March or early April 2019. The plant is owned by the company's subsidiary, American Zinc Products LLC.
AZR recycles zinc from steel electric arc furnace plants (EAF), which produce EAF dust (EAFD) as part of their operations. AZR takes the EAFD and processes it into a zinc containing material, called waelz oxide, at its recycling plants that are located in Illinois, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Gary Whitaker, vice president, general counsel and secretary at AZR, says the Mooresboro plant is designed to manufacture pure zinc metal (“SHG” grade) from the waelz oxide through a solvent extraction and electrowinning process. He adds that the plant was built a few years ago, but it was idled so that certain design and equipment problems could be addressed.
“We started it up and it worked, but over time the product deteriorated in quality,” he says. “The zinc wasn’t high quality, and contaminants got in the process. So, we had to redesign certain elements of the plant. We needed a bigger unit that would, for example, essentially filter out or precipitate out contaminants that we had to replace a smaller unit with three bigger ones.”
Glencore AG, a European-based metals company, has helped AZR in its efforts on the Mooresboro plant, Whitaker says. “With the assistance of Glencore and various engineering companies we have retained, and the investment of over $100 million, we believe we have resolved all the previous problems, and expect the plant to come on line as scheduled, ramping up to close to its full annual 155,000 US tons of zinc production capacity by the end of 2019,” he continues.
In the long-term, Whitaker says the company wants this plant to be known as one of the world’s best zinc smelters.
“We hope to have it in full capacity shortly after the end of 2019,” he adds. “We’ll be producing zinc metal that will be resold and eventually sold back to the steel companies.”