Sustainability innovations at Aurubis

Agenda for
21-23 June

Inge Maes
Sustainability Director, Aurubis, Belgium
At Aurubis Beerse we specialize in recovering metals, especially Cu, Pb, Sn, Zn and Ni, from all kinds of scrap and secondary materials where these metals are present in a very low concentration (low grade). Recycling of valuable metals from the most challenging kind of input materials is achieved in a sustainable way.

We are continuously investing in innovative technologies to further increase our recycling efficiency, bringing more valuable metals back into the value chain and in this way we are doing our bit to further optimize the circular economy.

In this presentation, I will touch upon two of our most recent capital investments that have enabled us to enhance our production processes.

In 2018 new fuming technology was implemented at a cost of approximately 40 Mio €. This has allowed us to recover more lead and zinc from our slags that would previously have been lost, while on the other hand our iron silicate is now qualitatively improved opening up new applications in the building industry.

In 2023, 27 Mio € has been invested in a new Advanced Sludge Processing (ASPA) facility. This will allow us to process anode sludge from the company’s recycling sites in Beerse and Lünen, Germany. Anode sludge is a valuable intermediate product from electrolytic copper refining. The new process will enable faster extraction of more precious metals, such as gold and silver, as well as tin and lead.

Metal recycling is becoming increasingly complex. The number of metals in discarded electronic consumer goods – for example, smartphones or laptops – has risen sharply and the product design of the devices is becoming more intricate. Valorizing metals from this end-of-life pool in a sustainable way requires special recycling skills and investment in research and development. ASPA is taking metal recycling to the next level. It combines efficiency and speed to get even more out of it allowing us to better harness the potential of ‘urban mining’.

Circular economy at its best!


Dr Inge Maes is the Sustainability Director for Aurubis Beerse in Belgium.

Inge has a Ph.D. in inorganic and analytical chemistry. In 1997, she started her career in R&D and soon switched to process development at the Umicore plant in Olen (Belgium), known as a leading circular materials technology company. There, her main focus was on metallurgy, innovation and project management.

In 2008 she joint Metallo-Chimique, a major Belgian non-ferrous metals (Copper, Tin, Lead, Zinc and Nickel) recycling plant. As REACH manager she was responsible for the implementation of this new regulation, working closely with the relevant REACH consortia, like the Lead REACH Consortium. In 2010, she became Chief Officer Sustainable Development with responsibilities covering HSE, energy and climate, regulatory affairs, management systems and sustainability. Inge still holds the same position in Beerse today, but since May 2019 under the flag of Aurubis AG, a leading global provider of non-ferrous metals and one of the largest copper recyclers worldwide.