20 Oct 2010

Boliden expands its electronic scrap recycling plant

In our quest for the latest mobile phones, TVs and computers we are producing enormous amounts of electronic waste. To Sweden's metal producer, Boliden, the ever growing mountain of electronic waste is literally a gold mine.

"Recyclables are becoming an ever more important raw material. In just ten years the quantity has tripled. Out of the total volume of copper, gold and zinc that Boliden extracts, the portion represented by recycled material is growing steadily," says Roger Sundqvist, General Manager of Boliden's Rönnskär smelter.

He adds that 29% of Rönnskär's copper production derives from recycling, as does 66% of the gold production and 80% of the zinc production.

The Rönnskär smelter has been a technological leader in electronic scrap recycling for many years, and is now one of the world's biggest players in the field.

"Recycling is the fastest growing part of our operations. Access to e-scrap is growing, while recycling capacity is lacking," Mr Sundqvist explains.

Good for the environment-good for business 

To Boliden, environmental gains also mean increased market value.

"We believe that the better our recycling becomes from the environmental standpoint, the more our competitive advantage increases," Mr Sundqvist says.

In spring 2010, Boliden's board approved a SEK 1.3 billion investment to significantly increase the capacity for recycling electronic scrap at the Rönnskär smelter. The main part of the investment is a new Kaldo furnace for the smelting of electronic scrap. The investment also includes the construction of a new facility for unloading and sampling e-scrap. NIB is financing the project with EUR 60 million (~SEK 560 million).

The new facilities are expected to be in use by the turn of the year 2011/2012. Rönnskär already recycles some 45,000 tonnes of e-scrap annually. The expansion project will triple this figure to 120,000 tonnes, ensuring that less electronic scrap is sent to landfills.

"In Sweden and Norway, 75% of all electrical waste is recycled. With new, stricter directives from the EU, collection and recycling of e-scrap is expected to increase across Europe," Mr Sundqvist says.

In addition to the important task of treating e-scrap in a safe manner, extracting metals from e-scrap requires considerably less energy than extracting metals from ore. And even what remains of the waste after the metals have been extracted, is put to use.

"We are reusing energy. Any excess is converted efficiently into steam, electricity and district heating. For example is the plastic material utilised as energy during the smelting of the electronic waste," Mr Sundqvist continues.

"Metals can be recycled countless times without losing their quality. The metals derived at Rönnskär end up as new products, such as copper wires in electrical goods," Mr Sundqvist concludes.

Related resources

Press Release

21.9.2010

NIB finances Boliden’s e-scrap recycling plant in Sweden