Aurubis AG: Revving up for mega maintenance shutdown in Hamburg; European and US expansion

Written by Stephanie Ritenbaugh

Copper recycler Aurubis AG is preparing for a scheduled maintenance shutdown at its Hamburg plant in addition to launching expansions at its other sites in Europe.

“This routine maintenance shutdown will be the largest in the history of the Aurubis Hamburg plant,” the Hamburg, Germany-based non-ferrous metals producer stated in its report on the first half of its fiscal year. It also noted that in addition to renovation and maintenance, Aurubis is investing in H2-ready anode furnaces and is expanding its Industrial Heat project in Hamburg.

The Hamburg plant is the company’s largest within its operations, about 2,000 employees produce cathodes, wire, continuous cast shapes, precious metals, and specialty products such as sulfuric acid and iron silicate stone. Overall, the company has production and sales sites in more than 20 countries on three continents and employs around 7,100 people.

In its financial report, Aurubis AG reported consolidated net income of €195 million over the six-month period, a 3% increase over the €189 million reported in the prior year.

Operating earnings before taxes (EBT) was €243 million in the first six months of fiscal year, compared to €239 million during the same period last year.

Net cash flow amounted to €5 million, down from the previous period of €19 million. The drop is due to the build-up of anode inventories to prepare for the Hamburg plant shutdown from May to July.

“Strategy implementation is the focus of the current fiscal year,” Chief Executive Officer Roland Harings said. “Additional investments of some €500 million were approved in the past six months.”

Those investments include new precious metal processing and the expansion of a facility to continue reducing diffuse emissions in Hamburg.

The company also broke ground to expand the tank house for copper production in Bulgaria in April. The project is part of the company’s goal of decarbonization. It also will increase the site’s annual output by around 50% to 340,000/ t of refined copper, according to the company.

“It will enable us to produce 50% more copper cathodes at the site in the future in order to fulfill growing European demand for this metal so crucial to the energy transition,” Harings said.

In the United States, Aurubis is building a €700-million recycling plant in Augusta, Georgia. The facility, dubbed “Aurubis Richmond, USA,” will be the first secondary smelter for complex recycling materials in North America. The plant is expected to launch later this year and is slated to process a total of 180,000/t of materials, such as printed circuit boards and insulated copper cable, per year as of 2026.

Going forward, Aurubis expects demand for copper products and the metals the company produces to remain high for the rest of the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Still, the metals producer anticipates “a temporarily strained supply situation for copper concentrates and recycling material.”

“The company is, however, in a position to compensate for this for the most part due to its long-term contracts and strongly diversified supplier and feed material portfolio,” Aurubis stated in its financial report on the first half of its fiscal year. The company reaffirmed its EBT forecast of between €380 million and €480 million for the the current 2023-24 fiscal year.

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