alba mixed nonferrous
Recovering copper from mixed, shredded electronic scrap is one aim of the planned Reco project in Ohio.
Photo by Brian Taylor.

Investment underway in Ohio secondary copper plant

Middletown, Ohio-based Cohen reportedly is a key investor in scrap-to-copper cathode plant.

June 19, 2020

Middletown, Ohio-based scrap recycling firm Cohen is reportedly a key investor in an effort to bring a red metal scrap-to-copper cathode production facility to southwest or west central Ohio.

A mid-June article from FastmarketsAMM cites Cohen’s Tyler Fojtik as the CEO of the Cohen Reco (renewable commodities) project, which carries a price tag of some $800 million and is in the process of seeking permits to build and operate the plant.

Fojtik tells the publication the plant will be designed to produce copper cathode from lower grades of copper-bearing scrap such as those produced in the auto and electronics shredding process.

Cohen operates about a dozen facilities in Ohio and Kentucky, including one auto shredder in West Carrollton, Ohio. The company increased its presence in the electronics recycling sector in 2017 with significant investments in electronics collection and recycling, including a shredding system in Middletown.

Fojtik says the Reco project will be able to convert the lower grades of red metal scrap into some 80,000 metric tons per year of copper cathode, as well as extracting as much as 10 metric tons per year of gold and additional quantities of silver and platinum group metals (PGMs).

The investment in Ohio is occurring simultaneously with a project in North Carolina that has wire and cable processing firm Prime Materials Recovery planning a melt shop that will consume 54,000 tons of scrap annually to produce 50,000 tons of 99.7 percent copper anodes.

The North Carolina project involves a partnership with Spain-based Cunext Group as a refining technology provider. In Ohio, Fojtik has indicated that facility will use European technology.

As the People’s Republic of China has erected barriers to its formerly high-volume purchases of red metal scrap exported from the United States, recyclers have posited whether some melting capacity might return to North America.

At the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) 2018 convention in April of that year, Tim Strelitz of California Metal-X stated, “I think a secondary copper smelter is absolutely vital to the good and welfare of the U.S. There is no reason why it can’t be done, if somebody wants to make good money.”