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Son Güncelleme: 28.11.2020 13:14
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Non-ferrous metals

A time for the scrap industry to channel its “passion and positivity”

This had been widely expected to enter force on July 1 but, more than three months later at the Division’s webinar on October 15, the exact details and launch date for the new import arrangements remained the “million-dollar question”, according to Shen Dong of Omnisource Corporation, LLC.

In the meantime, he reported, China had remained a significant world market: its 12 batches of import quotas issued to date in 2020 had amounted to 879,475 tons of copper scrap and 818,000 tons of aluminium scrap. However, many shipping lines had stopped accepting scrap cargoes for China given its imminent ban on solid waste imports. Lines were also reluctant to ship to Hong Kong, the speaker noted.

Introduced by divisional President David Chiao of Uni-All Group Ltd, the webinar featured a question/answer session moderated by Natalia Zholud of Belarus-based TRM Group as well as a series of market reports.

Dhawal Shah of Metco Marketing (India) PVT Ltd said the domestic secondary non-ferrous sector had mirrored the recent upturn in most other parts of his country’s economy, with the crucial automotive industry boosted notably in recent months by rural demand. A “very ambitious” nationwide vehicle scrappage programme would be unveiled shortly and should have a “tranformational” impact on new car sales and domestic scrap loops.

Mr Shah also relayed feedback on developments in Pakistan which, he said, boasted “one of the fastest-growing recycling industries”. Once China had begun to make changes to its environmental laws, “a lot of non-ferrous scrap started going to Pakistan for recycling and smelting to make ingots for the domestic and international markets,” he explained. “Pakistan also senses that, if they are to grow, they need to ensure that they wholly and squarely address environmental concerns as well, and they are putting new investment in that direction.”

According to Nick Hinohara of Japan-based Metal Solution Provider, recovery within the Japanese automotive sector had led to a “very tight” domestic market for aluminium scrap whereas demand for No 2 copper scrap was “relatively weak”. For the USA, Rick Dobkin of Shapiro Metals reported that secondary aluminium scrap exports had been finding their way to healthy markets in Asia, thus “making the domestic scramble for scrap ever more pressing”.

Sidney Lazarus of Non-Ferrous Metal Works (SA) (PTY) Ltd confirmed an improvement in business conditions as well as greater scrap dealer activity within South Africa. Regarding the Middle East, however, he expressed some concerns that the pandemic had led to the postponement of a number of major projects that, once they go ahead, would have a substantial beneficial impact on metals demand.

Summing up the sentiments of several contributors to the webinar, the report from Leopoldo Clemente of Italy-based LCD Trading SRL urged the scrap sector to continue to harness its innate “passion and positivity”. Southern Europe had been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, he said, but a recent survey of 6000-plus Italian businesses indicated that more than half had either already returned to pre-COVID levels of activity or expected to do so in the fourth quarter.

Reporting for the rest of Europe, Mogens Christensen of H.J. Hansen Recycling Industry Ltd AS of Denmark said markets were returning to “some kind of new normal”. Speaking in the context of the recently-introduced European Green Deal aimed at making the continent more resource-efficient and climate-neutral, he insisted: “The recycling of non-ferrous metals is crucial to reaching the targets. We must make it clear to everybody that free trade in scrap metals is contributing to the development of the Circular Economy.”

A time for the scrap industry to channel its “passion and positivity”

This had been widely expected to enter force on July 1 but, more than three months later at the Division’s webinar on October 15, the exact details and launch date for the new import arrangements remained the “million-dollar question”, according to Shen Dong of Omnisource Corporation, LLC.

In the meantime, he reported, China had remained a significant world market: its 12 batches of import quotas issued to date in 2020 had amounted to 879,475 tons of copper scrap and 818,000 tons of aluminium scrap. However, many shipping lines had stopped accepting scrap cargoes for China given its imminent ban on solid waste imports. Lines were also reluctant to ship to Hong Kong, the speaker noted.

Introduced by divisional President David Chiao of Uni-All Group Ltd, the webinar featured a question/answer session moderated by Natalia Zholud of Belarus-based TRM Group as well as a series of market reports.

Dhawal Shah of Metco Marketing (India) PVT Ltd said the domestic secondary non-ferrous sector had mirrored the recent upturn in most other parts of his country’s economy, with the crucial automotive industry boosted notably in recent months by rural demand. A “very ambitious” nationwide vehicle scrappage programme would be unveiled shortly and should have a “tranformational” impact on new car sales and domestic scrap loops.

Mr Shah also relayed feedback on developments in Pakistan which, he said, boasted “one of the fastest-growing recycling industries”. Once China had begun to make changes to its environmental laws, “a lot of non-ferrous scrap started going to Pakistan for recycling and smelting to make ingots for the domestic and international markets,” he explained. “Pakistan also senses that, if they are to grow, they need to ensure that they wholly and squarely address environmental concerns as well, and they are putting new investment in that direction.”

According to Nick Hinohara of Japan-based Metal Solution Provider, recovery within the Japanese automotive sector had led to a “very tight” domestic market for aluminium scrap whereas demand for No 2 copper scrap was “relatively weak”. For the USA, Rick Dobkin of Shapiro Metals reported that secondary aluminium scrap exports had been finding their way to healthy markets in Asia, thus “making the domestic scramble for scrap ever more pressing”.

Sidney Lazarus of Non-Ferrous Metal Works (SA) (PTY) Ltd confirmed an improvement in business conditions as well as greater scrap dealer activity within South Africa. Regarding the Middle East, however, he expressed some concerns that the pandemic had led to the postponement of a number of major projects that, once they go ahead, would have a substantial beneficial impact on metals demand.

Summing up the sentiments of several contributors to the webinar, the report from Leopoldo Clemente of Italy-based LCD Trading SRL urged the scrap sector to continue to harness its innate “passion and positivity”. Southern Europe had been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, he said, but a recent survey of 6000-plus Italian businesses indicated that more than half had either already returned to pre-COVID levels of activity or expected to do so in the fourth quarter.

Reporting for the rest of Europe, Mogens Christensen of H.J. Hansen Recycling Industry Ltd AS of Denmark said markets were returning to “some kind of new normal”. Speaking in the context of the recently-introduced European Green Deal aimed at making the continent more resource-efficient and climate-neutral, he insisted: “The recycling of non-ferrous metals is crucial to reaching the targets. We must make it clear to everybody that free trade in scrap metals is contributing to the development of the Circular Economy.”

New study shows life cycle of stainless steels

Conducted by Barbara Reck, Senior Research Scientist at Yale University, the study ‘Comprehensive Multilevel Cycle of Stainless Steel in 2015’ concluded that on average, 85% of stainless steels are recycled once they reach their end of life, either to become new stainless steels (56%) or a valuable iron source for carbon steels (29%).

The study also considered the recycled content of stainless steels (the amount of scrap used in the production of new stainless steels). Globally, the average recycled content of stainless steel was 44% (32% stainless steel scrap and 12% carbon steel scrap). However, there were significant regional differences, for example, in the USA and Europe recycled content of stainless steels was 71% and 70% respectively. The global figure is strongly impacted by China which, in 2015, produced 52% of the world’s stainless steels but contained on average only 23% recycled content. It is likely that this reflects the fact that the availability of scrap stainless steel in China is lower because most in-use stainless steels have not yet reached their end of life.

The study also analyzed end use sector specific end-of-life flows. Household appliances and electronics and metal goods had the lowest yet high end-of-life collection rate at 80%, while building and infrastructure had an 85% end-of-life collection rate and transportation and industrial machinery accounted for the highest end-of-life collection rate at 90%.

Kai Hasenclever, ISSF Director Economics & Statistics and Long Products, and project leader of this Team Stainless project commented:

“Stainless steels support many essential applications in our modern world from transportation, buildings, bridges and water pipes to medical uses and food preparation. As the focus on sustainability intensifies there is an increasing need to quantifying the material life cycle of stainless steels and their efficiencies from production to fabrication, manufacturing, use, recycling and disposal.

“This latest study into stainless steel stocks and flows cycles confirms its high end-of-life recyclability and, in the majority of regions, its high recycled content. This, coupled with stainless steels’ durability and longevity, clearly demonstrates it credentials as a sustainable material of choice.”

Investing in aluminium packaging sorting and recycling pays off

A recent study by HTP performed for the Packaging Group of European Aluminium clearly demonstrates that it really pays off to invest in aluminium packaging sorting and recycling.

Both Andy Doran, chairman of the Packaging Group and Michael Langen of HTP, a leading German consultancy on waste management, stated that by using a second Eddy Current Separator for the aluminium fraction in a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) or sorting station for lightweight packaging, 30% more aluminium can be sorted, up to a level of 89%. With the installation of an additional induction sensor sorter or a robot sorter, another 4-6% aluminium containing packaging can be easily sorted for recycling. And the depreciation time for such investments stays within a reasonable period of 3 to 4 years. Presentations from two European leading companies in advanced sorting technologies Steinert and Tomra also demonstrated that these innovative sorting tools make a real difference.

Mattia Pellegrini, Head of the Waste Unit of EU Commission DG Environment mentioned that ‘’The new European Circular Economy Action Plan mandates the EU to work on an integrated approach to packaging, including the circulation of all packaging we use, keeping it in the economy and out of the environment’’.
 
Member of the European Parliament Maria Spyraki added: “The COVID-19 crisis makes the circular economy more relevant than ever. Raw materials are not inexhaustible. Repairability, recyclability, reusability and remanufacturing are the main opportunities in resilience!”
 
“We call upon local authorities and waste management companies to make the necessary investments in order to be prepared for the new European recycling targets for packaging and a separate target for used aluminium packaging. On top, we are asking for a European harmonisation of the national waste collection level, while taking into account regional differences and respecting clear sorting instructions for the citizens”, concluded Andy Doran.

Hongqiao and Scholz to build recycling park

Scholz is using its recycling know-how to design a plant and to process more than 200,000 tons of aluminum scrap and 50,000 end-of-life vehicles per year. The recycling park will provide Hongqiao’s demand on input material for further growth and, at the same time, supports sustainability and improves environmental protection. One ton of recycled aluminum saves around 83 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and up to 94 percent of energy compared to the production from raw materials.

The signing of the joint venture agreement is an important step for both companies, Hongqiao and Scholz. “Hongqiao and Scholz are now joining hands to build the Sino-German Hongqiao Scholz Circular Economy Science & Technology Cooperation Project and to set up a benchmark in the field of recycling and renewables. We collaborate, not only because we have matching strengths and technologies, but we coincide in our ideologies to pursue green and sustainable development as well. Rooted in the manufacturing industry, we are to recycle industrial waste, to take advantage of our strengths and values in the circular economy, and to contribute more to our society’s green and sustainable development”, Zhang Bo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hongqiao, highlights in his remarks.

Rafael Suchan, Chief Executive Officer of the Scholz Recycling Group, also emphasizes that “We appreciate very much that we take our first steps in China together with such an important partner like Hongqiao. The opportunities provided by China’s green growth development plan based on a circular economy and the country’s aim to become carbon neutral by 2060 are of great benefit for the environment – and hence, also for our company Scholz. Having a highly innovative partner like China Hongqiao enables us to accelerate the ambitious goals to facilitate a well-functioning recycling market in China.”

Scholz Chief Operating Officer Marc Breidenbach says, that his team “now has the key role to bring in our comprehensive processing know-how at the upcoming layout and construction phase. We have an experienced international project team consisting of engineers from Europe and China supported by additional experts from Scholz’s Recycling Innovation & Technology Center in Germany who are ensuring a state-of-the-art two-shredder processing line.”

The core components are on the one hand an end-of-life vehicle shredder and, on the other hand, an aluminum shredder. Both lines will be combined further downstream with the latest separation process technologies to feed the joint venture’s remelting plant converting scrap into high-quality billets for Hongqiao’s aluminum production. The next steps will also include the setup and expansion of a local trading team in China to ensure that recycled high-quality aluminum is available in sufficient quantities.

International Congress for Battery Recycling

Delegates of ICBR exchanged with the European Commission live from Brussels and experts from many countries, and interviews with exhibitors and key industry players were streamed live to online delegates during the congress.

The on-site event has ended but it is still possible to sign up to the online platform and have on demand access to all presentations, interviews and workshop presented at the conference – industry insights, market drivers, trends and bottlenecks, the latest science, R&D, and the current state of advancement of the evolving regulatory framework.

  • Learn how to transport waste batteries and equipment safely.
  • Listen to industry leaders exchanging on the options for improving the current European legislation.
  • Participate in the on-going technical discussions on recycling performance, technologies, and economics.

More information on the ICM website. ICBR 2021 will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from September 22 – 24, 2021.

Europe’s strategy for critical raw materials “a double-edged sword”

But if left unchecked, mining for the materials needed to produce them could cause major environmental and social damage, the EEB warned.

The European Commission has unveiled today its strategy to boost the domestic supply of raw materials needed to manufacture vital goods such as batteries and renewable energy technologies.
 
The roadmap includes an updated list of materials identified as critical and the development of an alliance which promises major investments in the exploration, extraction, and recycling of materials on European soil.
 
The announcement comes as EU leaders seek to reduce their dependence on third countries and strengthen their supply of raw materials amid recent trade disruptions and growing geopolitical instability.
 
Critical materials such as lithium, which is used to produce batteries, are set to gain a central spot in the strategy due to increasing demand for electric vehicles and energy storage technologies. Such products are necessary to help Europe ditch fossil fuels and transition to clean energy.
 
However, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) warned of a ‘double-edged sword’, arguing that the environmental and societal costs of mining must be properly assessed. The focus must be on reducing the use of limited resources and avoiding environmental disasters often linked to mining such as deadly pollution, water shortages and the displacement of people.  

Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, policy officer on resource efficiency at the EEB, said: “Simply opening the flood gates to new mining projects in Europe would contradict the European Commission’s ambition to keep resource consumption within planetary boundaries, as set out in the circular economy action plan in March. What we need is more efficient, recyclable and durable batteries produced from responsibly sourced materials to alleviate the burden on the planet.”

The EEB also called for the adoption of a headline target to halve material footprint in the EU by 2030, and on the development and monitoring of complementary indicators on land, water and carbon footprints.

Similarly, Diego Francesco Marin, a project officer for environmental justice at the EEB, said: “By relocating mining to Europe, we are likely to also import the environmental damage that has been inflicted on communities in South America, Asia and Africa for decades. The European Commission must ensure that local communities and civil society groups become part of a comprehensive consultation process so that they can raise concerns about new mining projects near their homes before it’s too late.“

Aluminium recycling technology boosted by crystallisation research

Researcher Dr Biao Cai from the University of Birmingham’s School of Metallurgy and Materials  used sophisticated high-speed X-ray imaging to record the formation of micro-crystals as alloys cool and solidify, under a magnetic field. 

A mathematical model was developed by his collaborator Dr Andrew Kao from the University of Greenwich to predict whether micro-crystals would form, and what shape they would have. 

The model predicted that that helical ‘screw-like’ crystals would form under the influence of strong magnetic stirring, and the high-speed X-ray confirmed that this occurred. 

Although these elegant crystals are just micro-meters wide (ten times smaller than a human hair), they have implications for industrial-scale processes. 

Biao explains: “These microscopic crystals ultimately determine the physical properties of the alloy. To be able to adjust their shape, structure and direction of growth will enable us to perfect processes for both manufacturing and recycling of metals and alloys”.

Biao has already invented technique to improve aluminium recycling by removing iron. Iron is a detrimental element that can make aluminium brittle, and limit its use in premium applications such as aircraft. 

Existing methods for removing iron during recycling are either expensive or inefficient, but Biao’s simple, inexpensive technique uses magnets and a temperature gradient to remove iron contamination.

The invention has been patented by University of Birmingham Enterprise, and supported by the Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator which awarded Biao a grant to build a large-scale prototype. 

Cooperation for recycling of rare-earth magnets

Christine Becker, pixelio.de

As part of its mine-to-magnets strategy, earlier this year USA Rare Earth purchased the sintered neo magnet manufacturing equipment formerly owned and operated in North Carolina by Hitachi Metals. USA Rare Earth is currently evaluating options for the location of the plant, which will become the first neo magnet manufacturing plant in North America since the Hitachi facility ceased operations in 2015. Other domestic sources of neo magnets either import magnets for assembly in the US or import sintered neo magnet blocks that are machined and assembled in the US.

The plant was designed to produce in excess of 2,000 tonnes of sintered neo magnets per year, or approximately 17% of current U.S. demand for neo magnets. The process of manufacturing and machining neo magnet blocks generates up to 30% swarf and scrap (up to 600 tonnes), which needs to be recycled. Material from USA Rare Earth’s facility and material from machining of other blocks will be the feed for Geomega’s recycling plant located in St-Bruno, Quebec which, after processing, could become one of the rare earth oxide feed required for USA Rare Earth’s magnet plant. USA Rare Earth is expected to make all its swarf and scrap available for Geomega to recycle for a minimum period of five years, commencing on the effective date of a definitive agreement between the companies.

Geomega and USA Rare Earth will negotiate mutually acceptable commercial terms including the possibility of a license agreement to develop a recycling facility at the location of its permanent magnet factory. Until such time, this LOI remains non-binding.