We are looking very seriously on the environmental effects of our activity

Automation & RoboticsInterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 2/2013

Nicolas Treand, Executive Director of Aurubis Bulgaria   

Present briefly the activity of Aurubis in Bulgaria. What are the company’s achievements in the recycling processes?
In Aurubis Bulgaria we are treating copper concentrate which is coming from mines around the world and also from local mines. So we buy concentrate, we treat it and we make copper cathodes, which is our final product. The last 5 years we have increased drastically the take of recycling material as it’s called in Bulgaria - copper scrap.

The production capacity of Aurubis Bulgaria in 2012 is 298 000 tonnes annode copper, 226 000 tonnes cathode copper and 1 million tonnes sulphuric acid. Aurubis Bulgaria’s site is the biggest metallurgy plant in the country with size 4, 000, 000 m2, built in 1958 near Pirdop town. The factory was privatized in 1997 by a Belgium company, and 5 years ago was taken by Aurubis Group. And I can say that the last 10 years the company has been doing better and better every year in term of revenue and ecological parameters.

What is the ecological policy of Aurubis and what specific actions against harmful effects on the environment are parts of Aurubis policy?
First of all we want to be a sustainable company and follow every rule of the European Regulation. According to the local rules - we are trying always to be ready before the regulation arrives. We always work as a Group - we have equal standards in Germany and here, we aim at the same goals.

I will give couple of examples - currently, we are investing in off-gas facility and new rainwater plant. From the company privatization until now, almost 500 million euro has been invested in modernization, 100 million euro of which has been used to implement measures to enhance the company’s environmental performance and our last investment is exactly the same as what we have in Hamburg. Our factory in Hamburg is almost in the city center, so it’s consistent with all regulations. We also do ecological measures outside the factory.

Recently in Port Burgas we are receiving concentrate which is under the open sky. In Germany this is not acceptable - we have it on a covered storage, this is why we are going to sign a contract for covered storage for Black Sea as well.

Present the most interesting projects realized in terms of resource efficiency?
When I joined the company 5 years ago Aurubis Bulgaria was treating 10 thousand tons per year, today we are treating about 60 thousand tons of copper scrap. Probably you know that copper is called the magic metal - you can melt and remelt it, and it will never lose its properties. This is why in Aurubis we are looking very seriously on the environmental effects.

 Because when you produce copper out of recycled material you don’t cause the environment - you just remelt it and that’s all. But when you produce from copper concentrate you need to take care for the produced waste, emissions, etc. Recycling is really important part of our activity. In Bulgaria and also in the Group we are leaders in recycling. Our site in Germany is taking metal from absolutely everything. And this facility in Germany makes us the biggest recycling company. And in Bulgaria we increase our capacity but we have some supply issues - we could treat more but we don’t have enough supplies.

What are the new projects you have planned towards the sustainable development of the company?
We are trying all the time to increase our environmental parameters. Currently we are in execution of our investment program "Aurubis Bulgaria 2014". The total investment of the project is 44.2 million euro and 60% of this amount involves measures for environmental protection with a total capital expenditure of more than 26 million euro. The scope of the project, which will be finalized in 2014, consists of two main focuses - productivity increase and improvement of the environmental performance in the plant to meet also future EU regulations. The main goal is together with productivity improvements in new systems to maintain the best parameters and complete control in terms of gases and SO2 emissions.

 One of the main activities in the new project, is construction of an additional gas treatment plant, through which will be further contained and treated exhaust all processes gases that will provide a final consistent solution in this area.
Concrete measures in both directions are: the expansion element includes installation of additional equipment, improvement of the performance and reliability of the existing production facilities, continuous improvement and optimization of the production processes; the environmental part includes installation of an additional off-gas treatment plant, capturing of additional sources, changing the internal processes and implementation of best practices in operation.
About recourse efficiency we have made many projects for reduction of electricity consumption. We have reviewed our operational processes and decided to make a lot of automation, and actually decreased our electricity consumption more than 15% for the last 2 years. We are using heavy fuel - and we have reduced it by half - now we are using less than 5 thousand tons per year. There is another project - we will replace fuel by oxygen, and it will be decreased almost to zero.

Last in our sustainability program - our production uses water which we take from a dam "Dushantsi". When I saw the amount of water we used to use few years ago decided that we need to immprove this. Now we have invested in a closed circle and we are using almost 50 times less water. Aurubis Bulgaria will also realize a project for recycling of waste raw materials and introducing a new product of the plant with timate of 7.5 million leva. Project № BG161PO003-2.3.01-0042 receives funding by the Operational Programme "Competitiveness of Bulgarian Economy" 2007-2013, funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund and the national budget of the Republic of Bulgaria.

The contract is about 50% grant and is within "Investments in green industry" chapter of the Operational Program. The project includes several components related to purchasing and commissioning into operation of new equipment for handling scrap and fayalite. The amount of the financial subsidy which the company should receive is BGN 3,133,050.
We also have one more project - out of our process we have excess of heat. We discussed if we will be able to generate electricity out of this.

Aurubis is Silver Sponsor of the Conference and Exhibiton Save the Planet. What are the reasons of Aurubis to support the forum and what is the importance of this sponsorship for the business of Aurubis in Bulgaria?
You know that there is a wide discussion in Bulgaria about recycling especially in our business. My personal opinion is that everything which is used should be recycled and you should take back especially copper which can be recycled forever. This is something we should work on here in Bulgaria - for the image of recycling. We want to present our company as a recycling company and we think this conference is s good place for that.

Second, we should talk about the problem of organizing the materials better - the collection of cell phones, for example, need to be improved.

What are the most interesting highlights in your presentation "Aurubis - Excellence in Recycling? Sustainability, Resource Efficiency and Environmental Protection"?
At the conference Aurubis was presented by Volker Pawlitzki, Senior Vice President Commercial, Business Unit Recycling, Aurubis AG and Vladislav Petrov, Director Commercial in Aurubis Bulgaria. The main higlights in the presentation were copper and sustainability and what is the place of our company, our experience in terms of environmental protection, all in the context of sustainability, efficiency, and environment, as well as how we see the situation with the copper recycling in Bulgaria.