Sustainability, environmental protection, energy and climate, occupational health

Sustainability as part of the company strategy

Sustainable conduct and economic activities rank among the central components of Aurubis’ company strategy and management. This involves having a conscientious attitude towards our environment and limited natural resources. It also includes responsible interactions with employees, suppliers, customers, neighbors and the plant areas and communities where Aurubis is active.

The foundation of our operating business is responsible business practices. Together with solid growth, this forms the foundation for long-term economic success and as such, for a secure future for the company.

We act on the basis of legal requirements, internal guidelines and management systems, voluntary commitments as well as our corporate values, PRIMA. The letters spell the German word “prima,” meaning “great.” They stand for: performance, responsibility, integrity, mutability and appreciation.

Aurubis respects human rights and advocates for their protection. Compliance with the internationally recognized core labor standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) are of fundamental significance. We have been committed to the United Nations Global Compact since December 2014, and at the same time are pledged to contributing to the implementation of its principles. Aurubis reports on the current state of the implementation annually in the context of the progress report.

We are listed in the sustainability index “Global Challenges Index” and, in January 2017, once again achieved Prime Status with oekom research, one of the leading rating agencies in the area of sustainability.

Sustainability as part of the corporate culture

We integrate sustainability topics in the corporate culture throughout the Group and across all business processes. With a variety of measures, we contribute to minimizing potential negative effects of business activities on the environment, our employees and society as much as possible from the outset. Additionally, we have made knowledge about sustainability topics an integral part of training in the Group.

We developed a comprehensive Sustainability Strategy in fiscal year 2012/13 and therein established the main areas of activity. On this basis, we developed targets in the categories of the economy, the environment and people, as well as action plans and measures for individual areas. Many of these have already been implemented. For example, various copper-based materials and innovations were developed, the emission targets set for water and air were achieved and the proportion of complex recycling materials processed was expanded further. Additionally, we once again increased energy efficiency and occupational safety measures, dealt more intensively with responsibility in the supply chain and reinforced dialogue with our interest groups around Europe, for instance regarding the topic of the circular economy. In 2017 we began to revise our sustainability strategy. In this context we will bring the relevant issues up to date and set new targets.

The growing interest and increasing requirements from the surrounding environment validate our actions. Meanwhile, our customers are attaching more value to topics such as environmentally sound products, climate protection, modern production processes and a responsible and reliable supply of raw materials. In addition to investors, our customers are also paying heightened attention to whether Aurubis participates in environmental protection initiatives such as the “CDP” (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project). In 2015, the CDP honored us as “Best Newcomer Germany.” In 2016, we improved our position once again and were admitted to the “Leadership” category with the good result of A–. Additionally, the CDP classified Aurubis as one of the top 7 MDAX companies.

In the area of recycling, demands from both the political sector and from various interest groups have also risen further. In this area, resource efficiency, environmentally-friendly recycling management and multi-metal recycling solutions play a role. In November 2016 we held the third Sustainability Day at Aurubis. Together with representatives from politics, business and society, we are discussing and giving talks on the topics of recycling and the circular economy.

Corporate environmental protection topics

Chart: 2018 Corporate Environmental Protection Targets

Comprehensive sustainability reporting

In April 2016, we published the fifth Aurubis Group Sustainability Report. It provides an extensive and detailed sustainability balance of fiscal years 2013/14 and 2014/15. We also orient ourselves to the internationally-recognized reporting standard of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). It contributes to making the company’s reporting on sustainability and the Sustainability Strategy more transparent and easier to compare. In addition to relevant key parameters, successes, targets and the extent to which they are achieved, as well as challenges are presented. The current Sustainability Report follows the reporting requirements of the GRI’s G4 Standards.

With the updating of our Sustainability Strategy and the existing sustainability communication, we are well prepared to additionally comply with the EU policy regarding nonfinancial reporting (“CSR directive”), which we are required to adopt as of fiscal year 2017/18.

Environmental protection in the Group

We take responsibility for protecting our environment and our climate. Our production facilities therefore comprise modern and energy-efficient plant technology, which additionally complies with very high environmental standards. In this way, we preserve natural resources and maintain a clean environment for future generations. We pursue this standard at all of the production sites in the Aurubis Group and across all of our business processes. We have set targets in environmental protection, defined corresponding key figures and established measures to achieve the targets across the Group. The effectiveness of these targets and measures is reviewed continuously.

We use Group-wide environmental management systems in order to implement corresponding measures and achieve the targets for protection of the environment and climate. Well worth mentioning here is the certification according to DIN ISO 14001, as well as our participation in the EMAS environmental management system – the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. We record the targets, evaluate the deviations, and initiate necessary corrective measures, whose effectiveness we monitor continuously.

Moreover, we have implemented and certified energy management systems in accordance with DIN ISO 50001 at several sites. An annual external audit offers us the opportunity to have the successful implementation of environmental protection confirmed by an independent third party and to quickly recognize possible potential for improvement.

A significant foundation for environmentally-friendly production is the efficient use of raw materials. Multi-metal production and the recycling of complex input materials form the basis for responsible and demand-oriented production at Aurubis.

Capital expenditure for environmental protection in
Aurubis copper production

Chart: Capital expenditure for environmental protection in Aurubis copper production

We strive to protect the environment from possible long-term negative impacts of our actions. For this reason, Aurubis has invested more than € 540 million in environmental protection measures in primary and secondary copper production since 2000. In doing so, we particularly address the questions of water pollution control, soil conservation, climate protection and immission protection.

In fiscal year 2016/17, we reduced specific dust emissions for primary and secondary copper production by approximately 95 % and the SO2 emissions in primary copper production by approximately 85 %, compared with reference year 2000.

Aurubis has also achieved significant improvements in the area of water pollution control. Since 2000, we have been able to reduce metal emissions to water in copper production processes by 85 %, from 7.2 to 1.1 g/t of copper output.

In the future, we will make further efforts in order to become cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable. For this purpose, we have updated the environmental targets and standardized our sustainability targets. The subject area “nature conservation and biodiversity” has been incorporated as a new focus into our environmental protection targets.

Aurubis led an open dialogue with authorities and citizens across the Group again in fiscal year 2016/17. We additionally participated in the following diverse environmental projects:

  • Together with the overarching European metal industry association Eurometaux and the European Copper Institute (ECI), Aurubis is participating in the three-year testing and development phase of the European Commission’s ­Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). The goal of this collaboration is to develop and test the methods for determining the environmental footprint. On this basis, the European Commission is striving to create a single market for “environmentally-friendly products” and “environmentally-friendly organizations.”
  • In Hamburg, we have been a member of the Environmental Partnership since 2003 and a member of the Partnership for Air Quality and Low-emission Mobility, which is coordinated by the city of Hamburg. The goal of the partnership is to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions, which are caused by transport in particular. We also successfully participated in the German model project “Mobil.Pro.Fit®” in cooperation with the B.A.U.M. e.V. The goal of the project is to develop a sustainable and climate-friendly mobility concept.
  • Furthermore, we participated in the European research project “FORCE – Cities cooperating for circular economy” along with 22 national and international partners. The project pursues the goal of developing new concepts for avoiding and treating waste for the material flows plastic, biomass, electrical and electronic waste material, and wood. Aurubis supports the project with its expertise as a multi-metal recycler. In doing so, we aim to improve the recycling of strategic metals – e.g. copper, gold, silver and lead – by developing an optimal collection and dismantling system for electrical and electronic waste equipment.

Our Environmental Report and Environmental Declaration contain more information on environmental protection in the Aurubis Group. They are available on the company website in the "Responsibility" section.

Energy supply, energy efficiency and climate change issues are of fundamental importance

Copper production is a very energy-intensive process. Thus, influences from the energy sector were of significant importance for us in fiscal year 2016/17 again. Three developments were the focus of attention for Aurubis: the German energy transition, the implementation of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive and the third trading period of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

All companies that emit carbon dioxide must have the corresponding rights for this. These local additional CO₂ costs reduce the competitiveness of European industry in an international comparison. To balance these effects, so-called carbon leakage sectors were established, including the copper industry. This status currently softens the effect of the general reduction of allocated CO₂ certificates to a great extent.

In order to protect the copper industry from disadvantages in international competition, the European Union (EU) has already authorized limited compensation for electricity price increases stemming from CO₂ emissions trading. Some EU member states, including Germany, have adopted corresponding funding guidelines. Due to EU regulations for the copper industry, however, the compensation approved in Germany is only 50 % effective. This leads to a significant remaining load due to CO₂ costs, despite our existing carbon leakage protection.

We have developed an energy management system at all of the Aurubis Group’s main German sites. We also carry out energy audits and are certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 50001. We therefore fulfill the basic conditions to continue being subject to a lower EEG (German Renewable Energies Act) reallocation charge and lower energy/electricity taxes. Furthermore, we support knowledge sharing beyond the factory gates with regular energy management and energy efficiency workshops as well as our involvement in the energy efficiency network of the WirtschaftsVereinigung Metalle Germany, in other industry associations in Hamburg and within the local networks at primary Aurubis locations, among others.

The city of Hamburg is striving to reduce its CO₂ emissions by 40 % in 2020 and by 80 % in 2050, as compared to the base year of 1990. Furthermore, it would like to make its district heating supply more climate-compatible in the medium term. The city also plans on using industrial waste heat for this purpose. At the Aurubis site in Hamburg, we have identified CO₂-free waste heat potential for a district heating supply of around 60 MW and approximately 500 GWH per year at the sulfuric acid plant. The building development area HafenCity East is located in the vicinity of our Hamburg plant, and is therefore ideally located to use our waste heat for its heat supply. On February 17, 2017, a supply contract was signed according to which the area will take one third of our waste heat for this purpose. For this, Aurubis extracts heat that is formed when sulfur dioxide is converted to sulfuric acid. This industrial waste heat is nearly free of CO₂, and utilizing it will avoid more than 20,000 t of CO₂ emissions annually at the Hamburg location. Additional heat extraction with CO₂ savings potential of approximately 140,000 t CO₂ per year would also be possible.

At the beginning of fiscal year 2016/17, the electricity supply was significantly reduced, particularly through the malfunction of conventional plants in Europe. These circumstances in turn led to a short-term strong increase in prices on the electricity exchanges. This development had little influence on Aurubis. We counter electricity price risk at the German locations by means of a long-term supply contract.

Currently, pronounced east-west and north-south disparities exist for German transmission network fees. With the Grid Fee Structure Modernization Act (German abbreviation: NEMoG) , the foundation has been laid for an incremental (from 2019 to 2023) nationwide standardization of transmission network fees. Expenses for the offshore connection will be separated from the network fees and financed by a levy. It is to be expected that the network fees will initially decrease because of this, although a cost shift from north or east to west results. Because Aurubis pays significantly reduced network fees at the Hamburg and Lünen locations due to its consistent electricity consumption profile, these effects have an insignificant impact. A cost increase due to the offshore levy is not expected because this levy is limited for energy-intensive companies.

In Bulgaria, the additional electricity costs were reduced significantly during the fiscal year. This was chiefly a result of the introduction of an asset relief scheme for energy-intensive companies from the costs of promoting renewable energy according to EU subsidy guidelines.

In the past fiscal year, the wholesale prices for natural gas stabilized at the low level of the previous year. The good supply situation in Europe as well as the effects of the ongoing low oil prices were the reason for this. Despite sinking domestic production, we also expect a good natural gas supply in Europe in the future, especially as a result of the start of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) imports from the US to Europe in the past fiscal year.

We investigated and developed considerable savings potential in water supply and treatment in fiscal year 2016/17. The basis for this was a comparison of methods and key figures between various locations. In addition to the technical optimizations, an improved approach to water consumption also led to lower water and water treatment costs.

Health protection in the Group

The responsibility of Corporate Occupational Safety & Health is to provide technical, organizational and personal conditions that prevent work-related accidents and illnesses.

Our accident rate, which had been in steady decline for six years, flattened out over the past fiscal year. The accident rate is referred to the acronym LTIFR (1-n), which stands for “Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate” and represents the number of work-related accidents with at least one lost shift per one million hours worked. With regard to Aurubis employees, the LTIFR (1-n) for fiscal year 2016/17 was at 4.8, compared with 4.6 in the previous year. The absolute number of accidents was at 47, compared with 45 in the previous year.

We have been setting short-term and medium-term occupational safety targets since 2010 and are working towards our “Vision Zero”; that is, a completely accident-free work environment. Within this framework, we have reviewed the original medium-term fixed target of limiting the LTIFR (1-n) to ≤ 3.0 by 2022 at the latest. We have set the objective of decreasing the LTIFR to less than 1.0.

Accident frequency

Chart: Accident frequency