Press Release

Aurubis builds facility to recycle more nickel and copper in Belgium

Hamburg / Olen | Wednesday, February 16, 2022

  • Strategic project for Aurubis to increase recycling capacity of the important industry metals nickel and copper
  • € 70 million investment at Aurubis site in Olen, Belgium
  • COO Heiko Arnold: “Another prime example of how Aurubis realizes synergies in its smelter network and contributes significantly to the European circular economy”
  • BOB (Bleed treatment Olen Beerse): State-of-the-art and energy-efficient process to extract impurities from bleed (also known as electrolyte) and optimize material streams of nickel and copper

Today, Aurubis decided on the next project on the strategic agenda, an investment of € 70 million in the construction of a state-of-the-art and energy-efficient bleed treatment facility at its Olen site. In a hydrometallurgical process, BOB will recover valuable metals such as nickel and copper contained in electrolyte streams that are generated in the tankhouses of the metal production at the Aurubis sites in Beerse and Olen (both in Belgium). The installation comprises a complete tankhouse purification system that is known as bleed treatment. Aurubis expects an EBITDA contribution of about € 15 million upon full operation of the new facility in fiscal year 2025/26.

As a high-performance metal recycling site in the Aurubis smelter network, the plant in Olen processes, besides blister copper, up to 135,000 tons of multimetal recycling materials annually and produces copper cathodes via electro refinery as well as Aurubis Rod, Foxrod, and Bars and Profiles. The plant in Beerse processes more than 250,000 tons of complex recycling materials and operates a copper tankhouse. BOB is an important addition to the Belgian production cluster to extract nickel and copper from material flows as well as to remove impurities from the bleed.

Aurubis COO Heiko Arnold underlines the strategic importance of the planned investment:

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.

In the Aurubis smelter network, there are three other bleed treatment facilities in Hamburg, Lünen (both in Germany), and Pirdop (Bulgaria). With the additional facility in Olen, Aurubis will optimize the Group-wide material flow even further and become more efficient.

With this extensive bleed treatment capacity in Olen, we will optimally capture valuable metals in dynamic and continuously changing recycling markets and materials,

emphasizes Inge Hofkens, Managing Director of Aurubis Olen.

“ntegrating 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. Moreover, we are creating 35 new jobs in Olen, increasing the facility’s importance for the whole Group.

Detailed engineering and approval processes for BOB are currently underway. The start of construction for the facility is planned for September 2022. Commissioning of BOB is planned for summer 2024.

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Angela Seidler
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