Protection from Environmental Impact

As a producer of copper and other metals, we are aware of our environmental responsibility. We have therefore set ourselves the target of conserving resources and maintaining a clean environment for future generations. This applies not only to our own processes but to those along the value chain as well (see Human rights)

The chief operating officer and Corporate Environmental Protection management are responsible for the strategic positioning of environmental protection in the Group. Environmental officers oversee the environmental protection duties at the individual production sites (see Sites and employees).

The principles of our Corporate Environmental Protection Guidelines provide a framework for safeguarding our uniform, Group-wide environmental standards. They are enshrined in the Corporate Policy on Environmental Protection. We have set Group-wide targets in environmental protection. We implement corresponding local measures at the production sites to achieve these targets. Environmental performance is monitored and controlled using key environmental parameters, which are regularly recorded at the production sites and verified by external inspectors.

The main standards for our production processes are outlined in the permits issued by the governmental authorities. The baseline includes European regulations on immissions, emissions, water, waste, and disruptions, as well as their implementation in national law, plus the European chemical regulation REACH.

Most of our sites have environmental management systems in accordance with ISO 14001/EMAS (see Sites with certified management systems). At the Hamburg and Lünen sites, these are part of the integrated management system for quality, environmental protection, energy, and occupational safety. During the reporting period, the certifications were confirmed through routine surveillance visits or recertification.

In addition to fulfilling legal requirements, the management systems help us improve our environmental performance. They assist us in recognizing potential improvements and, in the case of deviations from specified targets, in initiating corrective actions. We continuously inform our employees about environmental and energy-related topics and train them accordingly. Moreover, emergency drills are carried out regularly, which we document and evaluate.

Our efforts are paying off, with specific dust emissions for primary and secondary copper production having been reduced by 95 % compared to the reference year 2000. The emission reduction programs of the last few years will continue. In addition to reducing emissions to air, we have also made significant improvements in water pollution control. We have reduced metal emissions to water in copper production processes from 7.2 to 1.1 g per t of copper output since 2000. This is a decline of 85 %.

In early 2019, the Hamburg Environmental Authority published that measurements taken at the Veddel measuring station in 2018 exceeded the target for arsenic in particulate matter in the ambient air. As in past years, our Hamburg plant adhered to and fell significantly below the legal limits prescribed for all of the emissions permitted for the operation of our facilities. Nevertheless, we will continue to actively implement additional emission reduction measures to ensure that the measurements at the Veddel measuring station continue to fall below the targets, even in unfavorable climate conditions (as in 2018).

Dialogue with governmental authorities and the public is important to us, which is why we are involved in public projects. For example, since 2013 we have participated in the EU projects OrganisationEnvironmental Footprint and Product Environmental Footprint, which seek to achieve an environmental balance in organizations and products. In 2018, the two pilot projects we participated in were successfully concluded when the results were accepted by the official supervisory bodies. We plan to take part in the next phase of the Environmental Footprint as well and contribute our experience in this area. Furthermore, we carried out a life cycle analysis for copper cathodes and published the results in the Aurubis AG Environmental Statement. The numbers show that the footprint of the Aurubis cathodes is smaller than the average cathode produced by the members of the International Copper Association (ICA)1.

1 ICA - International Copper Association: Copper Environmental Profile, Sept. 2017.

Key measures of the Sustainability Strategy 2018–2023 and their status in FY 2018/19

  • Introducing the ISO 14001 standard for environmental ­management systems across the Group
    Twelve sites were certified in accordance with ISO 14001 in fiscal year 2018/19 (see Sites with certified management systems).
  • Reducing specific metal emissions to water in multi-metal production with site-specific projects and individual measures
    One measure to reduce metal emissions to water was to install a new sand filter in the existing treatment plant for industrial wastewater at the Pirdop site. Commissioning is expected in late 2019. This should reduce emissions from undissolved substances.
  • Reducing specific dust emissions to air in multi-metal production with site-specific projects and individual measures Status in 2018: 13.4 % reduction (target: 15 % by 2022, base year: 2012)
    For example, a new facility for cooling converter slag in pots was built at the site in Pirdop, Bulgaria. Commissioning is expected in late 2019. This project contributes to a further reduction in fugitive emissions.
  • Reducing specific SO2 emissions to air with planned site-specific projects and individual measures
    The new facility for cooling converter slag mentioned above also contributes to reducing SO2 emissions.


Specific emissions from copper production

in g/t erzeugten Kupfers201820172016201520142013
Dust emissions 1635660555552
Metal emissions to water 21,111,111,31,8
1 The KPIs relate to the copper production sites, i.e., to primary and secondary copper production at the Hamburg, Lünen, Olen, and Pirdop sites.
2 In our reporting, we refer to the copper production sites that discharge directly into water. These sites are Hamburg, Olen, and Pirdop. In Lünen, wastewater is directed to the public sewer system after being treated on the plant premises.

Certifications by site

SiteEMASISO 14001ISO 50001ISO 9001IATF 16949EfbVISO 45001/ OHSAS
Hamburg, headquarters (DE)   
Lünen (DE)  
Pirdop (BG)    4
Olen (BE)     
Emmerich, Deutsche Giessdraht (DE)    
Avellino (IT)   
Fehrbellin, CABLO (DE)   
Nersingen, Strass, CABLO (DE)   
Hamburg, E. R. N. (DE)   
Röthenbach, RETORTE (DE)      
Hamburg, Peute Baustoff (DE)    √ 1   
Buffalo (USA)     
Zutphen (NL)    
Pori (FI)    
Stolberg (DE)    
Stolberg, Schwermetall (DE) 2  
1 For the sale of iron silicate granules used to produce blasting abrasives.
2 Not majority-owned by Aurubis (50 % stake).
3 The slitting center in Dolný Kubín is also certified in accordance with OHSAS 18001.
4 Valid starting October 1, 2019.

EMAS: system of specifications for environmental management systems.
ISO 14001: standard for environmental management systems.
ISO 50001: standard for energy management systems.
ISO 9001: standard for quality management systems.
IATF 16949: standard for quality management systems in the automotive industry, based on ISO 9001.
EfbV: Ordinance on Specialized Waste Management Companies (German certificate).
ISO 45001: standard for occupational safety management systems.
OHSAS 18001: standard for occupational safety management systems.