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Heraeus Precious Metals to expand its recycling capacity

Nov 01, 2023Nov 01, 2023

Heraeus Precious Metals, a leading supplier of precious metal products and one of the largest recyclers of platinum group metals, says it is expanding its recycling capacities at its headquarters in Hanau, Germany, with a 35-million-euro investment. Twenty new jobs will be created through the expansion.

In Hanau, Heraeus operates one of the largest refineries for platinum group metals (PGM). By 2026, the company will add several additional production lines that use electrolytic processes to reduce its chemical use and further increase process efficiency, significantly increasing the Heraeus’ capacity. By using state-of-the-art production processes and effective batch management systems, the company adds that its product quality and operating efficiency will be increased equally.

PGM, with their special physical and chemical properties, are used as catalysts for exhaust gas purification and for the production of green hydrogen, fertilizers or cancer therapy medicines. Given their limited availability and the high CO2 emissions during extraction and processing, the company says keeping precious metals in the cycle and recovering them from end-of-life materials are necessary. Compared with primary materials from mines, recycled PGM have up to a 98 percent lower carbon footprint. In addition, the wet chemical process used in Hanau has the lowest CO2 footprint of the recycling processes for platinum group metals, according to the company.

Demand for recycled materials and circular solutions is increasing, driven not least by growing environmental awareness, which is boosting applications such as green hydrogen. Additionally, the EU is working to become more independent in critical raw materials. These factors are playing a role in the company's expansion.

Marius Vigener, commercial head of business line chemicals at Heraeus Precious Metals, says, "We are convinced that demand will continue to increase in the coming years. Only together can primary material from mines and secondary material from recycling meet global demand."

"We recover precious metals from scrap materials almost completely," adds Christian Mock, technical head of business line chemicals at Heraeus. "The investment at the Hanau site enables us to meet the growing demand in Europe in particular."

Heraeus operates eight recycling sites worldwide, and the expansion in Hanau is part of a global expansion program totaling 300 million euros.

Last year, the company began expanding its recycling capacities in Wartburg, Tennessee, and in Santa Fe Springs, California.

It also is investing in China. In 2018, the company opened a precious metals recycling plant in Nanjing. Additionally, in February of last year, Heraeus established a joint venture with BASF that will recover precious metals from spent automotive catalysts in Pinghu, China.