Aurubis Richmond USA rendering
Rendering courtesy of Aurubis

Aurubis to build secondary smelter in Georgia

The company plans to process up to 90,000 metric tons of scrap at the site, targeting the first half of 2024 for commissioning.

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November 10, 2021

Aurubis AG, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, has announced that it will invest $346.5 million, or 300 million euros, to build its first secondary smelter in the U.S. Construction is scheduled to begin at the site in Augusta, Georgia, during the summer of 2022, and commissioning is expected to begin in the first half of 2024. The new site in Augusta, which is in Richmond County, will be named Aurubis Richmond, USA.

The smelter, which Aurubis says will create 100 jobs, will accept and process up to 90,000 metric tons of scrap annually in the form of circuit boards, copper cable and other metals-bearing recyclables to produce 35,000 metric tons of blister copper annually. The company says it will further process the intermediate products from the site into various industrial and precious metals largely at its European smelter sites but also will sell them within the U.S. market.

Aurubis says it also has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the relevant governmental authorities regarding economic support measures. The new site is in a strategically advantageous location near the Port of Savannah and key economic regions of the U.S.

According to a news release from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office, Aurubis will build on 150 acres at Augusta Corporate Park, which is a “Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) Certified” site, and plans to begin hiring for positions as soon as summer 2022. Individuals interested in opportunities with Aurubis should visit www.aurubis.com/en/career/jobs for additional information.

With its first U.S. location, Aurubis says it will tap into a market with strong growth potential as it expands its international integrated smelter network. The company says it expects Aurubis Richmond to generate $92.41 million, or 80 million euros, in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, at full production capacity starting in its fiscal year 2025/26.

“With this investment, we’re setting a clear example of sustainable growth and will become a forerunner for multimetal recycling in the U.S. as well—a role that we already have in Europe now,” Roland Harings, CEO of Aurubis AG, says. “We’re implementing our strategic agenda with the new site and proving once again that we can outstandingly combine profitable growth and sustainable business activity. The need for modern, sustainable, local processing capacities is very strong. Today, these aren’t at all sufficient to cover the high demand, so large volumes of valuable feed materials have to be exported. With the new capacities, we’re in a strong starting position at the right time and are receiving enthusiastic local support due to the investment’s sustainability aspects especially, for which I’d already like to express my sincerest thanks.”

Aurubis supervisory board Chairman Fritz Vahrenholt adds, “The U.S. is a highly attractive recycling growth market with a lot of potential and competitive energy prices. This step in the U.S. is a key component for continued profitable growth.”

Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, says, “We are so proud that this innovative company will build the first multimetal recycling plant in the United States in Richmond County. Team Georgia came together to make this possible and I would like to thank our partners in Augusta and our leadership for supporting one of the largest German investments in our state.”

“We're glad to welcome Aurubis to the number one state for business, marking the single-largest investment made by a German company in the State of Georgia,” Kemp says. “Our ports system, highly skilled workforce and probusiness environment—which prioritizes partnership and innovation—have once again attracted a top-notch opportunity for hardworking Georgians in Augusta. Aurubis will now join more than 500 German companies with operations in Georgia, and this project underscores the strengths of our exceptional state and local economic development teams."

“The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is happy to play a role in bringing jobs and investment to Georgia,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch says. “Exports produced by the Aurubis recycling operation will strengthen the state’s global position via Savannah—already one of the nation’s most balanced ports in terms of import-export trade.”

Aurubis says about 6 million metric tons of recyclable, metal-bearing materials are generated in the U.S. annually, with that volume expected to grow by an average of 5 percent annually in the next several years. The company says it views Aurubis Richmond as an excellent opportunity to invest in a fast-growing environment and to recycle these materials directly in the U.S.

According to Kemp’s office, Aurubis’ commitment to sustainable development and to raw material security will play a role in building Georgia’s electric mobility value chain.

Aurubis announced its “Tomorrow Metals by Aurubis” program in October, which it says emphasizes its focus on sustainability. The company says its copper cathodes contain more than 40 percent recycled material presently. “To further promote the circular economy of metals," Aurubis said, "the group will build on its plans to continue expanding its recycling capacities in the future as well--currently, these capacities amount to about 1 million [metric tons] per year.”

The company says it has invested more than 670 million euros ($775 million) in environmental protection measures since 2000, reducing its dust emissions by 96 percent and its metal emissions to water by 88 percent at its copper production facilities. “Aurubis already produces copper with less than half the carbon dioxide (CO2) per ton than its international competitors,” according to the company.