Germany company Aurubis has announced that it is investing 70 million euros, or $79.5 million, to construct a bleed treatment facility at its site in Olen, Belgium (BOB).
The hydrometallurgical process BOB will use will recover nickel and copper contained in electrolyte streams that are generated in the tank houses at Aurubis’ sites in the Belgian cities of Beerse and Olen. Aurubis says it expects an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) contribution of about 15 million euros, or $17.05 million, when the facility is fully operational in fiscal year 2025/26.
In addition to blister copper, the plant in Olen processes up to 135,000 tons of multimetal recycling materials annually and produces copper cathodes via electro refinery and Aurubis rod, foxrod and bars and profiles. The plant in Beerse processes more than 250,000 tons of complex recyclables and operates a copper tank house. The company says BOB is an important addition to the Belgian production cluster to extract nickel and copper from material flows and to remove impurities from the bleed.
Regarding the investment, Aurubis COO Heiko Arnold says, “At Aurubis, we are aiming to expand our industry leadership in sustainability and continuously strive to use resources even more responsibly. With BOB, we are introducing an energy-efficient and fast process step that extracts nickel–an indispensable metal for lithium-ion batteries and, thus, an important component for the megatrend of e-mobility. The new facility in Belgium is another prime example of how Aurubis realizes synergies in its smelter network and contributes significantly to the European circular economy.”
Aurubis says it has three other bleed treatment facilities in its smelter network in Hamburg and Lünen, Germany, and in Pirdop, Bulgaria. With the additional facility in Olen, Aurubis says it will further optimize the groupwide material flow and improve its efficiency.
“With this extensive bleed treatment capacity in Olen, we will optimally capture valuable metals in dynamic and continuously changing recycling markets and materials,” says Inge Hofkens, managing director of Aurubis Olen. “Integrating this state-of-the-art facility into our recycling processes emphasizes Aurubis’ drive to become more sustainable and reach the goal of covering the full production cycle internally.”
Hofkens adds that with the addition of BOB, Aurubis is creating 35 additional jobs in Olen.
The company says detailed engineering and approval processes for BOB are underway, with construction planned to begin in September and commissioning planned for summer 2024.