Executive Board Chairman Roland Harings discusses challenges, approaches, and hard decisions.
A brief overview of our business model, and why recycling is becoming more and more important to us as a driver of earnings.
What recycling raw materials do we use, what innovations are we researching, and what trends benefit us? Three behind-the-scenes reports.
> Recycling Qualities> Research & Development> Recycling Markets & Market Drivers
A discussion with Prof. Reuter on why we have to rethink product design and an interview with Ms. von Hahn about how Aurubis helps shape metal recycling from a political angle.
A report on the dialogue between the companies TKF and Aurubis about CO2 emissions, closed loops, and why metals are here to stay.
Robustly positioned for sustainable success
Today, Aurubis has a broader position than ever before: we process metal concentrates, scrap metals, and metal-bearing recycling materials into metals of the highest purity and products with added value. Christophe Koenig, Senior Vice President Commercial, on mine partners, market flows, and why recycling is becoming increasingly important as a driver of value.
“To put it very simply, our business rests on three main pillars: the processing of raw materials from the mining industry, the processing of recycling materials from preprocessors and the electronics industry, and product business,” says Koenig. “The core of this unique positioning within the metal value chain is the use of different metallurgical flows, and each of these three pillars is influenced by different market cycles. This broad positioning ensures the sustainability of our results and the robustness of our business model.”
"We favor mine partners that demonstrate the same dedication to sustainability in their downstream value chain as we do."Christophe Koenig
Concentrate business: complexity, sustainability, and a focus on individual solutions
Aurubis sources metal concentrates from its global network of over 30 mining partners and a few traders. The company has decided that mining metal ores is not part of its strategy. What some would see as a disadvantage is something that Koenig views as a strength. “The independence and flexibility of this setup allow Aurubis to create an optimal input mix of standard and complex raw materials for its production facilities. We are focusing on our core expertise.”
Thanks to its integrated smelter network, Aurubis can process complex concentrates and optimize its concentrate mixes. For Koenig, the advantages for both the mines and Aurubis are clear: “We enable our mining partners to unlock the value of their complex metal concentrates, and Aurubis benefits from a higher margin for the solution they provide.” This expertise makes Aurubis an in-demand partner for developing specific answers to the needs of the mining industry, for instance when it comes to concentrate quality. Furthermore, the topic of sustainability is gaining more traction. “Not only consumers are becoming more aware of environmental and social issues. Our mining partners now also increasingly value a responsible and environmentally sound business approach. We at Aurubis pride ourselves on setting benchmarks in the industry!”
Aurubis enters into long-term supply contracts with its mine partners to ensure the capacity utilization of its assets and provide planning security. This is also a way of committing to its partners: “We are committed to our long-term partnerships and we favor mine partners that demonstrate the same dedication to sustainability in their downstream value chain as we do. Sustainability is not only a topic of environmental protection and social responsibility, it also means that we value partners who have a long-term view and are not only seeking to maximize short-term margins.”
Recycling business: the circular economy drives earnings
The recycling business has established itself as an additional key earnings driver at Aurubis. “From high-copper scrap to industrial residues and end-of-life electronics that make their way back to us, we are one of the leading copper recyclers in the world,” says Koenig.
The company currently processes about 700,000 t of recycling material per year at its sites. "Sustainability being close to our heart, we are committed to providing solutions to the growing recycling market. With our expertise and assets, we are well positioned to answer the needs ofthe recycling market," according to Koenig.
Aurubis also offers to purchase production residues or scrap from its customers to then, if required, deliver refined copper back to them. This is done mostly through longer-term contracts and thus dampens fluctuating availability of scrap in the short term. These “closing-the-loop” contracts provide Aurubis with additional planning security.
The recycling market is currently undergoing various developments: different national regulations, such as the import restrictions on certain copper scrap qualities in China, are causing global market streams to shift. “The recycling business is becoming more and more important as an earnings factor for Aurubis," says Koenig.
Find out more about how KFW IPEX-Bank and Aurubis work together to develop solutions for mine projects. (Video only in german)
(Image left) Precious cargo: at our site in Pirdop, Bulgaria, we transport copper concentrates from the storage facility to the primary smelter by conveyor belt.
(Image right) From old to new: we offer our customers the option to sell their production residues or copper scrap to us in return for refined copper.
"The recycling business is becoming more and more important as an earnings factor for Aurubis."Christophe Koenig
Product business: an important outlet for metal output and an ear to the market
The product business combines several earnings factors: in particular, the manufacturing and marketing of various copper products and other metals, sales of sulfuric acid, and sales of by-products. According to Koenig, the product business is not only an important earnings driver. It also allows the company to stay in continuous contact with its copper consumption markets and the downstream industry.
Aurubis processes most of its refined copper output into copper products such as wire rod and shapes. “We at Aurubis are involved in an ongoing dialogue with our customers and discuss a wide range of issues such as material specifications, future trends, and aspects of sustainability,” says Koenig.
Another earnings component in the product business is sulfuric acid, which is mainly sold to the chemical and fertilizer industry as a by-product of concentrate processing. “In good years, the sulfuric acid business is an attractive earnings contributor.” Depending on the contents of the copper concentrates and recycling materials Aurubis processes, the company also increasingly recovers additional metals and sells them on a number of metal and precious metal markets. “Aurubis specialists regularly check whether the company should develop its intermediate products further to ensure marketability and the best positioning in the value chain at attractive margins.”
Koenig summarizes: “The strength of our business model lies in the fact that the main features that drive earnings balance each other out in some cases, allowing us to handle the volatility of different market prices relatively well. And by developing our recycling business, we are working on the big societal challenges of our time.”