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Heraeus acquires McCol metals to expand precious metals recycling

German technology group Heraeus has completed the acquisition of McCol Metals, a Canadian company specializing in recycling precious metals, particularly iridium. This acquisition includes McCol Metals’ facility located in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, which will now operate under Heraeus Precious Metals, the group’s division dedicated to precious metals.

Marius Vigener, Executive Vice President of Heraeus Precious Metals, highlighted that this acquisition strengthens Heraeus’ capabilities in precious metals recycling. McCol Metals specializes in recovering precious metals from spent mixed metal oxide electrodes, primarily used as anodes in electrochemical processes like copper foil production for batteries.

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Growing importance in hydrogen production

Iridium, known for its extreme rarity and high corrosion resistance (rarer than gold or platinum), plays a crucial role in various industries, including electrical, electrochemical and automotive sectors. Its demand surged in early 2021, leading to record-high prices due to supply shortages and increased usage, particularly as an electrolyzer in hydrogen production, storage, and transport.

Strategic move into raw material recycling

This acquisition marks Heraeus’ strategic expansion into raw material recycling. Recently, the group also launched Europe’s largest recycling plant for rare earth magnets under its Heraeus Remloy division. These magnets are vital components in wind turbines and electric vehicles, among other applications. Heraeus estimates that recycling spent magnets could meet over 30% of Europe’s rare earth demand.

The move underscores Heraeus’ commitment to sustainable practices and enhancing its position in critical materials recycling, addressing supply chain resilience and environmental considerations in high-demand sectors.

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