illustration inside aurubis richmond
Image coutesy of Aurubis

Aurubis taps SMS to construct Georgia recycling plant

The construction of Aurubis Richmond is the starting point of a longer term collaboration between the two companies.

November 29, 2021

Aurubis AG of Hamburg, Germany, and the SMS Group of Dusseldorf, Germany, have signed a contract for the construction of Aurubis Richmond, a multimetal recycling plant in Georgia.

Aurubis announced its plans to build the plant Nov. 10, noting that construction would start in mid-2022 in Augusta, Georgia, in Richmond County. Upon commissioning, which is scheduled for the first half of 2024, the plant will process about 90,000 metric tons of complex recyclables annually.

The two companies have agreed to work together on the greenfield project, with the SMS group planning the facility concept, delivering it and implementing it on-site. The SMS Group also is delivering the technology for the top-blown rotary converter, or TBRC, which Aurubis describes as a state-of-the-art piece of equipment for processing complex recyclables to recover copper, nickel, tin, zinc, precious metals and platinum group metals. The scope of delivery also includes the sampling and off-gas cleaning facilities.

The construction of Aurubis Richmond is the starting point of a longer term collaboration between the two companies. Aurubis and the SMS Group also signed a cooperation agreement, through which both partners say they will be able to quickly implement the planning, construction and development of additional modular recycling facilities in Europe and North America in the case of a positive investment decision from Aurubis.

“With the investment in Aurubis Richmond, we reinforce our ambitions to continue expanding the recycling of complex, valuable metal-bearing materials and returning them to the material cycle,” says Hans Rosenstock, managing director of Aurubis Richmond. “The SMS Group is an extremely competent partner for the setup of the site, a partner that will support us in implementing custom-fit solutions for ecologically sustainable business activity and accelerated decarbonization.”

“We’re pleased to bring the state-of-the-art recycling plant in Richmond to life, together with Aurubis,” Michael Rzepczyk, a member of the management team at the SMS Group, says. “In addition to technological expertise, we’re united as partners by our strategic orientation toward continued growth in the circular economy and the recycling business, as well as contributing to climate protection with new technologies. Furthermore, our intelligent and efficient digital concepts enable us to optimize the production processes. This modular facility sets new international benchmarks in recycling electronic scrap and is planned for additional sites as well.”

With the construction of Aurubis Richmond, Aurubis says it is tapping a market with strong growth potential and expanding its international integrated smelter network. The investment of about 300 million euros, or $33.8 million, also will help Aurubis meet its sustainability targets. Aurubis Richmond is expected to generate an annual contribution to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of about 80 million euros, or $90.2 million, at full production capacity starting in fiscal year 2025/26.

The site will process circuit boards, copper cable and other materials containing metals will into 35,000 metric tons of blister copper annually, the company says. Aurubis will further process the intermediate products into various industrial and precious metals at its European smelter sites and also will sell them directly in the U.S.