Mines and metals activities
How can mining resources be repurposed most effectively? This issue is a long-standing challenge for Eramet. As a participant in the circular economy, the Group continually strives to devise and implement solutions to
- utilize the lowest-grade ore
- repurpose materials initially considered to be waste or tailings
At SLN's mines in New Caledonia for example, a carefully considered approach has always been in place. Even though it could not yet be implemented, a decision was made to store the low-grade ore extracted for future repurposing. It was not until several decades later that the development of new techniques and the construction of washeries meant that this ore, initially considered of marginal value, could be repurposed. In addition to opening up new market opportunities, this technical advance has produced two effects: a significant increase in the lifespan of deposits and an increase in environmental efficiency (more resources repurposed relative to the same environmental footprint).
- Over 3 million tons of low-grade saprolite and coproducts from washeries have been repurposed by SLN in seven years.
- Over 20,000 tons of a sand containing zircon – initially considered tailings – have been repurposed by the GCO teams (Senegal) since 2016.
To improve the repurposing of its mining resources, Eramet has implemented a new Circular Economy Action Plan for the 2019-2023 period. Its goal is to repurpose over 2 million tons of materials previously considered tailings or waste through innovative actions.
One special characteristic of metals is that they are infinitely recyclable. As such, recycling is an integral part of the metallurgical industry's production processes. With its High Performance Alloys Division, Eramet has a long-standing commitment to the circular economy.
Today, the steelworks incorporate over 85% secondary raw materials as an alternative to the use of primary raw materials. From metal fragments to chips, grindings and offcuts, this production and consumption waste comes from either acquisitions on the market or the Division's plants, from which waste is handled under an integrated and optimized management process.
- 90% of the waste generated in plants is repurposed either internally or through external service providers.
The circular economy action plan also includes targets to further increase this repurposing rate.
The High Performance Alloys Division has also developed sites that specialize in recycling:
- EcoTitanium, Europe's first aviation-grade titanium recycling plant, which produces alloys from large scraps and chips of titanium collected from the leading aircraft manufacturers and their subcontractors.
- the Commentry plant (Erasteel), which carries out pyrometallurgical recycling of spent catalysts, metal oxides, cells and batteries. This operation enables strategic metals to be recovered (cobalt, molybdenum, nickel), which can then be reintroduced into new product manufacturing cycles.