Responsibly planning the future
In turbulent times, it’s important to direct our focus to the right things, the important things, and to transform momentum into opportunities. At Aurubis, many of the topics presented in this magazine preoccupied us and, in some cases, challenged us.
The health of our employees has been at the very top of our sustainability agenda, and not just since the start of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, since the pandemic began, we have been advocating much more for the continued health of our employees while monitoring social and overall economic developments. In contrast to the impacts of the pandemic, there has been a great deal of positive momentum for Aurubis’ sustainability agenda with the Metallo acquisition, the new digitalization strategy, and the investments in our training centers and environmental protection measures.
Sustainability is a fundamental part of the Aurubis strategy. In this context, our objective is to align economic, environmental, and social aspects: for instance, improved environmental performance at our plants is accompanied by increased occupational health and more security for the company sites. Expanding our recycling activities contributes to the circular economy, protects resources, and safeguards raw materials.
We are observing a continuous rise in the sustainability expectations of customers, employees, the capital market, policymakers, and civil society, and we want to take advantage of this momentum for our sustainability vision. From a political perspective, we support fair competition and the ability of responsible companies to act with a sense of security, and we share our knowledge in public projects and initiatives. We rely on dialogue and cooperation because we can achieve the most when we work together.
Aurubis has been committed to the Ten Principles of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact since 2014 and has renewed its commitment during the UN’s 75th anniversary year. We have done a great deal so far to fulfill these ten principles and our own Sustainability Strategy. We’re currently adjusting this strategy, taking the European Green Deal into account: Aurubis will be carbon-neutral well before 2050, under the right political conditions, and is setting a science-based climate target. We have reached important milestones in responsible supply chain management with the Aurubis Human Rights Commitment and our participation in the Copper Mark.
Managers of tomorrow
EXPLORE! is the name of the training and networking program for Aurubis’ potential managers of tomorrow. This 18-month journey kicked off for eight high-potential employees in October 2019. The group also includes two trainees who are taking part in a full-time qualification program. The name EXPLORE! indicates the program’s objective. In addition to specialized project work, it includes the development of soft skills in particular, and that can’t happen without the participants exploring themselves as individuals, their colleagues, and the company. The program centers on expanding the participants’ personal leadership qualities – with the constant support of experienced professionals.
Everything under one roof
Our employees are our most important success factor, so it’s up to us to keep them ready for the future. We foster a learning culture based on personal responsibility, flexible arrangements, dialogue, and digital skills. With the Learning Academy, continuing education and digital, self-guided learning have become even more accessible since mid-2020: the new platform is a central location for all qualification and learning opportunities, and the options have been expanded. Digital and innovative learning formats in particular, such as teaching videos and Learning Nuggets – short learning sessions by colleagues for colleagues – promote enthusiasm for learning and open up new, easy approaches to continued development.
We stick together
“Together we care.” Solidarity is important – especially in challenging times! Rather than leave our partners alone during the coronavirus pandemic, we have opted to strengthen our social involvement, whether locally in the areas surrounding our plants or internationally in Peru and Chile. We help by providing laptops for homeschooling and disinfectant for families at our partner schools in South America. We support volunteers and organizations that are committed to assisting socially disadvantaged people and regions, educational programs for young people, nature conservation, and cultural institutions now and in the future. We view this as our contribution to a world worth living in – for future generations as well.
Closing the loop
Thanks to its integrated smelter network, Aurubis is able to process a broad range of materials, from industrial production waste to complex scrap from end-of-life products. Thanks to the acquisition of recycling specialist Metallo in 2020, we’ll be able to do this even more efficiently in the future. In our relations with customers, we also consider the return of the accumulated recycling raw materials, developing targeted “closing-the-loop” partnerships. We have established over 50 partnerships of this kind in which our copper product customers also serve as suppliers of recycling materials.
Investment in the future of the Lünen site
Aurubis is investing a total of € 60 million in renovating the tankhouse at the Lünen recycling center. The extensive work is taking place in five phases over three years, so the tankhouse can be operated at up to 80 % capacity at all times during this period. After this is completed, it will be possible to use anodes with a higher weight, increasing the tankhouse capacity by 10 %. With this investment in the future, Aurubis is strengthening its Lünen site in the Group’s smelter network and demonstrating once again its commitment to a sustainable circular economy.
Standards for responsible metal production
We see the biggest opportunities for sustainable metal production when every actor in the value chain takes responsibility and works on solutions together. This is why we support the Copper Mark industry initiative. The new quality seal promotes and verifies responsible copper production. Aurubis Bulgaria is the first Aurubis primary smelter to undergo the review process for the seal and has thus committed to fulfilling 32 sustainability criteria. The Copper Mark is putting forth promising efforts to develop a standard for responsible procurement that would cover other non-ferrous metals such as nickel, lead, and zinc as well. Several high-profile companies have already committed to the Copper Mark standards. coppermark.org
Solar energy for copper production
Aurubis Bulgaria plans to construct a 10 MW photovoltaic installation on the plant premises – and thus to become the first industrial consumer in Bulgaria to invest in its own production of green energy on this scale. The contract with CEZ ESCO Bulgaria EOOD, a company of the CEZ Group, was signed in July 2020. Now the next steps will be implemented until the scheduled start of construction in spring 2021. “We want to generate 20 % of the electricity that we need from internal renewable sources by 2030,” says Aurubis Bulgaria CEO Tim Kurth, describing the plant’s vision.
With one of the largest environmental protection projects since the 1980s, Aurubis continues to develop its technological edge in environmental protection: until 2023, fugitive emissions of fine particulates in the primary smelter at the Hamburg plant, which previously couldn’t be collected, will be reduced by another 70 %. With the RDE project (for “Reduzierung diffuser Emissionen,” or “Reducing Fugitive Emissions”), which has an investment volume of over € 100 million, Aurubis proves once again that modern urban development and copper production just a few kilometers from downtown Hamburg can sustainably coexist. Our primary smelters in Germany and Bulgaria are among the cleanest copper production facilities worldwide.
Research for the hydrogen transformation
CO2 is generally formed during copper production. Natural gas is used to refine copper, drawing out excess oxygen bound in the copper. However, carbon dioxide (CO2) arises in the process in addition to steam. Replacing the natural gas with hydrogen as a reducing agent would eliminate this CO2, leaving only the steam. As soon as this metallurgical application of hydrogen proves to be cost-effective, Aurubis will be prepared for a possible switch in the future. Aurubis is currently researching a variety of possibilities for the use of hydrogen.