ERAMET is committed to the sustainable management of resources. This involves reasonable exploration of mineral deposits and better extraction of natural resources. Deploying hydrometallurgical processes and setting up waste recycling circuits are also essential to the development of industrial activities.
Optimizing the mining resource
Mining is one of ERAMET’s core businesses. Geologists and mining engineers plan responsible exploration of the mineral resource: proprietary techniques enable optimized extraction of deposits using technology and tools that minimize the impacts of extraction.
In parallel, ERAMET is developing enhancements to the profiles of both manganese and nickel ores.
- In the Gabonese Republic, the Moanda site currently produces manganese sinters. They are derived from a previously unused portion of fine particulate fractions discharged from the washing. The production process in the Moanda Industrial Complex has now been modified to remove the sediments discharged into the Moulili river.
- At SLN in New Caledonia, the Doniambo plant is regularly and uniformly supplied with a precise blend of different ore qualities coming from the mining centers operated. This allows best use to be made of the resource.
Development of a new responsible process: hydrometallurgy
Hydrometallurgy enables separation of metals and chemical production of metal salts and oxides. It is used to extract ores, particularly those with low metal content, as well as in waste recycling, to recover and separate metals present in small quantities.
ERAMET's experience in hydrometallurgy spans several decades, particularly in the Sandouville plant in France, which has become a unique center of expertise. Hydrometallurgy is an essential development field, for example in the Weda Bay Nickel project in Indonesia. It is also a driver for diversification: a specific process is being developed to boost yields from the Mabounié deposit in the Gabonese Republic and to improve the lithium project.
Pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy and chemistry all consume water. As well as being used to cool furnaces and metallurgical plants, the water also serves to wash ores, raw materials and by-products.
Water consumption is linked to variations in activity, but savings can be made: ERAMET has implemented reduction plans on a large number of its sites. Industrial processes concentrate on industrial water and surface water. Certain sites operate with closed circuits, recycling the used water several times. The drop in the Group’s water consumption in 2012 is thus due to improvements in the recycling loop at the COMILOG washing plant in Gabon.
Developing processes that enable recycling
For some years, ERAMET has tried to reuse various waste materials (generated waste as well as other waste) in its processes. The Alloys Division in particular is at the forefront of this waste recycling effort, with very high proportions of internally and externally generated metal residues being recycled. Erasteel Commentry in France distinguished itself in 2012 because 93% of its raw materials came from recycling.
Encouraging development of the recycling activity
For many years, ERAMET has been developing its recycling business. Thus, one part of the Manganese division specializes in using secondary raw materials or recycling metal waste.
Separating and recycling waste
The setting up of environmental management systems is always accompanied by reinforced waste management. The increased number of certified sites goes hand in hand with the setting up of specific channels to recover waste, i.e. scrap metal, neon tubes, printer toners, used grease, and aerosols. Thus, COMILOG in Gabon has created waste yards dedicated to scrap metals, tyres, used conveyor belts, and several hazardous waste storage areas.