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PGM recycling

Spent catalytic converter materials containing PGMs are regularly sourced from third-party suppliers for processing through the metallurgical complex.

The recycling materials are either purchased outright or are toll processed on a fee basis with the contained metals being returned to the supplier of the material. Third-party suppliers collect recycling materials primarily from automobile repair shops and automobile yards that process scrapped vehicles. PGMs are also extracted from petroleum refinery catalyst and other PGM-bearing materials, normally on a toll basis.

Upon receipt of the recycling materials at the Columbus smelter, they are weighed, crushed and sampled prior to being combined with mine concentrate for smelting in the electric furnace. Nickel and copper sulphides which occur naturally in the mine concentrate act as a metallurgical collector in the smelting furnace to facilitate extraction of the PGMs from the recycled material.

In 2016, an average of 24.7 tons per day of recycled material was processed, up from 20.9 tons per day in 2015. This generated earnings of $12.4 million (before tax) in 2016.

In 2016, 401,100oz of recycled PGMs were sold, a 17.9% increase on the 340,200oz of recycled PGMs sold in 2015. In addition, 228,300oz of PGMs were processed on a tolling basis in 2016, an 11.4% increase over the 205,000oz tolled in 2015. In total, recycled volumes fed to the smelter in 2016 yielded 668,300oz of PGMs, an increase of 21.3% on 551,100oz in 2015. The increased volumes in 2016 reflect a gain in market share from purchased catalysts.