Heraeus Acquires Canadian Iridium Recycling Company

by | 24. Jun 2024 - 10:15 | Economy

The precious metal is used in electrochemical processes, including hydrogen production.  

German technology group Heraeus has purchased 100% of McCol Metals, a Canadian company specializing in recycling precious metals, mainly iridium. The facility in St. John’s, in the Western province of Newfoundland and Labrador, will continue production but will be operated by Heraeus Precious Metals, the group’s precious metals division. The move will further expand Heraeus’ precious metals recycling competency, according to Marius Vigener, Executive Vice President of the division. McCol Metals recovers precious metals from spent mixed metal oxide electrodes, which are used as anodes in electrochemical processes, such as in producing copper foils for batteries.

Hydrogen Production – A Growing Field of Usage

Iridium is rarer than gold or platinum and is the most corrosion-resistant metal. South Africa is the leading miner of iridium and all other platinum group metals, followed by Russia. It is used in the electrical, electrochemical, and automotive sectors. In early 2021, iridium prices witnessed an all-time high amid growing demand and supply shortages, according to market intelligence company ChemAnalyst. Since then, prices have remained at elevated levels. Because of its growing usage as an electrolyzer in hydrogen production, storage, and transportation, the German Mineral Resources Agency (DERA) identified potential supply risks for iridium and the rare earth element scandium 2020 study.

Most Recent Venture Into Raw Material Recycling

The acquisition marks Heraeus’ most recent venture into recycling raw materials. The group recently commissioned Europe’s largest recycling plant for rare earth magnets under its Heraeus Remloy division. These magnets are used for wind turbines and electric vehicles, for example. The company said recycling spent magnets could cover more than 30 percent of Europe’s rare earth demand.

Photo: iStock/saoirse_2010

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