Aurubis: copper recycling breakthrough?

Aurubis Technology Review. Aurubis recycles scrap metals and concentrates into high-purity products, mostly copper products. The company is listed in Germany, has 7,200 employees and revenues of €16bn in 2021,  as it processes 1MTpa of recycled materials, plus 2.25MTpa of concentrates from 30 mining partners.

Its flagship Hamburg facility employs 2,000 people and is said to be “one of the most modern and environmentally friendly copper smelters in the world”.

Environmental credentials include two-thirds lower energy (at 2 MWH/ton) and lower carbon than (at 1.7 tons/ton) primary copper production. Improving sustainability is also a key focus for the company, per our overview.

Another target is growth. Metals recycling is growing 4% pa in Europe (from 7.3MTpa in 2019, and only 40-45% of metal waste is collected) and 5% pa in North America (5.6MTpa in 2019, only c30% is collected).

The conclusion in our Aurubis technology review is that the company does have a partial moat around its business, as it has patented several process improvements, to remove pollutants (30%), enhance product purity (25%), energy efficiency (20%) and optimize specific products/alloys (40%) in its copper processing operations.

Some of the most interesting innovations, and further observations on the patent library, are covered in our usual technology review.

Further research. Our outlook on growth in global copper demand as a result of the energy transition is linked here.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2019-2024.