July 22, 2022: Nyrstar, the new operator of German lead production plant Stolberg, told BESB on July 21 there would be a “continuous assessment” of the potential for future investment in the site — but declined to be drawn on the plant’s future.
Nyrstar’s parent company, the Trafigura Group, said on July 6 it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire Ecobat Resources Stolberg (ERS), which owns the Stolberg multi-metals processing plant.
Stolberg will be operated and managed by Nyrstar, a multi-metals mining and smelting company, which is a market leader in the production of zinc and lead metal.
But a Nyrstar spokesperson declined to discuss plans for the primary lead smelter site, which has been out of action since declaring force majeure last year after devasting floods in Europe.
Asked if there will be new investment in the site, particularly in terms of lead and lithium battery recycling, the spokesperson said: “The first priority will be the execution of the current business strategy for the Stolberg business.
“Going forward, we will assess on a continuous basis how this might evolve as we optimize opportunities and leverage synergies between the Nyrstar businesses.”
Stolberg has only produced about 100 kt/a for the past few years of full production, as it has been focused on optimizing the type of throughput rather than maxing out on tonnage, says Farid Ahmed, a lead commentator. It refurbished and expanded its silver plant a few years ago and wants to get as much by-product value out of that, which means taking more complex feed which doesn’t work through the whole smelting process so quickly.”
Financial details of the acquisition, which is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year, were not disclosed.
Nyrstar and Trafigura Group have a long history of rarely giving out information about their activities, be this commercially sensitive or not.
Ecobat Resources Stolberg was founded in 1848 and has one of the largest and most modern primary lead smelters in the world, according to Ecobat.
The facility has the capacity to produce 155,000 tonnes of lead and more than 100 different specifications of market-leading lead alloys and produce 130,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid.
Ecobat CEO Marcus Randolph said the sale was “consistent with our strategy to concentrate on our core business of battery recycling and represents a significant step in the rationalization of our portfolio”.