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Innovative metal recycling in Beerse

Continuous innovation and the drive to become more and more efficient are part of Aurubis’ formula for success. At the site in Beerse, Belgium, the state-of-the-art ASPA (Advanced Sludge Processing by Aurubis) recycling facility is set to be constructed using the synergies of the Metallo acquisition.

Grafik: Aurubis: Assets Metall Recycling
Photo: Aurubis: Yves de Visscher
Yves De Visscher, Projektleiter: “For us, ASPA is the circular economy at its best.”

The concept of the circular economy didn’t just crop up with the announcement of Green Deals in Europe and the US. The development of a functioning circular economy is key to resource-efficient business, to achieving national and international climate targets, and to maintaining prosperity and progress. Our recycling activities also make an important contribution and make us the most sustainable integrated smelter network worldwide.

Growth – but sustainable. This is our stated objective, which is why we’re continuously expanding our recycling business. With ASPA, we are building a state-of-the-art recycling facility in Beerse (Belgium) starting in 2022, which will process anode sludge – a valuable intermediate product of the copper tankhouse – from the recycling sites in Beerse and L√ľnen in an internally developed hydrometallurgical process. The new method will recover metals from anode sludge more efficiently and in even less time than before – including precious metals such as gold and silver, but also tin. Around 250,000 t of multimetal scrap is already processed in Beerse every year, from the most complex industrial residues to higher-grade scrap. Factsheet ASPA

The new hydrometallurgical process

With this newly developed process, we can recover more valuable metals from
intermediate products – even faster than before.

Graphic: Aurubis: Assets Metal recycling

“With ASPA, our production in Beerse will be faster and more efficient, and there will ultimately be an even higher yield of valuable metals than today.”

— Heiko Arnold, COO
Graphic: Aurubis: Assets Metal recycling

“For us, ASPA is the circular economy at its best,” says Dirk Vandenberghe, Managing Director in Beerse. After all, the facility will recycle and reprocess an even greater volume of metal scrap – a vital step in light of the constant rise in metal scrap around the world.

Next-level metal recycling


€ 27 m


However, it’s not just the quantity of metal scrap that’s increasing; its composition is becoming more complex as well. The number of metals – for example in discarded smartphones or laptops – has risen sharply, and the product design of the devices is increasingly multi-layered. This makes the recycling process more elaborate, and requires investments in research. While developing ASPA, Aurubis and Metallo worked together closely with researchers at the university KU Leuven for three years to optimize the process and “raise metal recycling to the next level,” as Heiko Arnold, COO of Aurubis AG, explains. “That’s a complex process. But reprocessing as many components as possible and tapping the potential of ‘urban mining’ – meaning the use of the city as a raw material warehouse – for scrap metal is crucial for closing the waste cycle and fulfilling the increased demand for metals in a resource-efficient manner.”

Prime example of the integration of Metallo

For ASPA, colleagues from Aurubis and the former Metallo site Beerse worked together closely on a joint project for the first time as well. The initial idea was developed by the employees in Belgium. But only with the collaboration of Aurubis and the integration of the new ASPA process in combined, cross-company flowsheets was the full potential leveraged and the implementation of the facility initiated. ASPA therefore isn’t just a prime example of synergies from the acquisition of Metallo, but also of how two successful companies become one.

After the detailed planning is completed, construction of the facility will kick off in the second quarter of 2022. Commissioning is scheduled for early 2024.