The Columbus Metallurgical Complex is one of the world’s largest recyclers of PGMs derived from spent catalytic converters and other industrial sources.
Spent catalytic converters are sourced from third-party suppliers, either by outright purchase or on a toll processing fee basis. Third-party suppliers collect recycling materials primarily from automobile repair shops and automobile yards that process scrapped vehicles. PGMs are also recycled from petroleum refinery catalysts and other PGM-bearing materials.
Prior to processing, recycling materials are weighed, crushed and sampled in a state-of-the-art assay lab at Columbus utilising an automated X-ray process that provides greater accuracy and faster processing times than conventional fire assay methods. Crushed catalyst material is blended and processed with concentrates from our Stillwater and East Boulder mines.
Blending materials from two different sources gives us a competitive advantage over other recycling facilities which lack access to mined production. It also provides processing efficiencies – the concentrates from our Montana mines contain quantities of nickel and copper which facilitate extraction of the PGMs from the recycled material.
In 2020, the total recycled volumes fed to the smelter were 840,170 3E PGMs, of which 100,090 3E ounces were processed on a tolled returned basis. 673,893 3E ounces were sold to the market.
Our recycling operations conserve natural resources, energy and landfill space, reducing the environmental impact associated with acquiring mined material. Recycling is not only resource-efficient and environmentally sound; it also contributes to the resilience, efficiency and predictability of our Columbus operation.