Moving to Skellefteå
Boliden Rönnskär – a world leader in metal recycling
Boliden Rönnskär in Skelleftehamn is one of the world’s most efficient copper smelting plant and a world leader in recycling of electronics, with the ambition to always develop even further. Our latest project is a new streamlined leaching facility and unique final storage for process waste products.
Rönnskär is Boliden’s largest production unit and the single largest private employer in the Region, with around 860 employees. As one of the world’s most efficient copper smelting plants, the company mainly produces copper, but also gold, silver, lead and zinc clinker using raw materials from Boliden’s own mines and from external suppliers. The smelting plant is also a world leader in the recycling of electronics, such as circuit boards, from which the company mainly extracts copper, gold and silver.
More recycling, less waste
We are now raising the bar with another leaching facility that can extract metal from residue, thus reducing the amount of waste going into landfills. Linn Andersson, site engineer at Boliden Rönnskär, tells us more.
“Our focus for the near future is to extract more metal out of our materials and put it into products. The new effective leaching facility is the most important part, allowing us to recycle 80% of the metal.”
Material retained from the smelting plant’s treatment facilities enter the leaching plant, which then leaches copper, lead and other metals from the material that can be recycled and eventually turned into products such as lead bars, copper cathodes, silver granules and gold bars. The material which cannot be turned into products will be deposited in permanent storage for hazardous waste.
“The underground storage will be unique, there is nothing like it in the world. The closest thing would be final disposal of nuclear fuel. We will have a long road 330 meters down in the ground, with exits to storage rooms that are 200 meters long and 15–17 meters high, similar to mountain halls. This space will cover our storage needs for at least forty years to come.
A solution for future generations
Linn Anderson says that responsibility and care of the future environment is an important issue for Boliden Rönnskär.
“We want to be credible and responsible in our work, and the deep storage is the safest solution there is to deal with the residues that we cannot make into products, such as arsenic, mercury and cadmium. Building storage that lasts 10–15 years is not sustainable; we are building to store the material forever, and to seal the storage in such a way that it doesn’t need to be monitored. It is a solution that does not become the responsibility of future generations, which is a relief.
The leaching facility and the underground storage will both be operational in 2021. Linn Andersson is looking forward to continuing to develop Boliden Rönnskär in a growth municipality.
“Skellefteå is an interesting site at the moment, with a strong faith in the future. We want to create a modern world together, and at Rönnskär, we produce metals that are needed in that modern world. I think many actors will contribute to attracting competence to Skellefteå, and that is a large benefit to us all.