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With an increasing need for copper, cable manufacturers are turning to recycling.

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MONTREAL (AP) — Copper sheets move along a conveyor belt that is suspended four floors above the floor of a foundry in an industrial neighborhood of Montreal. Some scrap copper wire falls into a lava-hot furnace after the metal. A green fire ignites the liquid copper that comes from the furnace. After passing through a second furnace, the molten copper emerges as an orange river that is ready to be formed into copper rods, which are the starting point for copper wire.

Copper rod manufacturing from ore has a lengthy history at the Nexans mill dating back over a century. But it has recently used a lot more recycled copper; at this point, about 14% of the rods are made of recycled metal. Achieving 20% is the objective.

CEO of Nexans Christopher Guérin stated, “We say to our customers: Your waste of today, your scrap of today is your energy of tomorrow, so bring back your scrap.”

Increasing Copper Demand

Manufacturers in the sector have long been integrating reclaimed copper into their operations. With the expectation that the market for copper would almost treble by 2035, these efforts are now stepping up. A portion of the worldwide move away from fossil fuels to cut greenhouse gas emissions is responsible for this spike in demand. More copper is needed to keep up with the expanding trend of electrifying everything, including automobiles, buildings, and manufacturing processes.

Apart from the energy industry, the growing demand for copper is also largely attributed to the building, cell phone, and data center industries. Copper recycling is critical because, depending on the richness of the ore, every ton of recovered copper prevents the mining of around 200 tons of rock. This is important because mining operations can cause air pollution, erosion, contamination of the soil and water, and dangers to the local biodiversity.

Benefits of Copper Recycling

According to Guérin, copper is particularly well suited for recycling as it can be used again and again without losing its worth or functionality. Up to ten trucks a day bring copper scrap, cable, and bare wire to the Nexans plant. Customers provide some of the scrap, with the remainder coming from scrap merchants. A high level of purity in copper is required for it to conduct electricity effectively.

Every year, Nexans, one of the biggest producers of wire and cable in the world, uses more than 2,600 times as much copper as the Statue of Liberty. The importance of the metal was highlighted by energy specialist and vice chairman of S&P Global analytics Daniel Yergin, who stated, “We depend on electricity for everything now.” Without copper, none of it functions.”

Copper Versus Aluminum

Even though aluminum is utilized in electrical wire, producing it takes a lot of energy. The demand for copper has increased further as a result of certain aluminum smelters cutting back on production or closing due to the recent spike in power rates. According to the International Copper Association (ICA), over two-thirds of all copper produced in the previous century is still in use, mostly in electrical grids, home appliances, and communications. This shows how useful copper is even today.

Urban Mining: Prospects for the Future

The USGS Mineral Resources Program’s Colin Williams is a proponent of increasing the recycling of current copper. By using a technique called “urban mining,” the supply of copper may be greatly increased while the energy and environmental effects of new mining are minimized.

It expands the available supply, according to Williams. “… Being able to utilize material we’ve already mined decreases the energy and environmental consequences involved with fresh mining. It’s a crucial step.

Urban mining makes use of the enormous amount of copper that is now in use. When appliances, communication gadgets, and electrical grids come to the end of their useful life, they create a sizable copper reserve that may be recycled.

The industry is increasingly resorting to recycling to satisfy demand responsibly as the world’s need for copper rises. This change lessens the negative effects of mining operations on the environment while also protecting natural resources. Manufacturers like Nexans are laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future by using recycled copper, guaranteeing that today’s trash becomes tomorrow’s energy.

The continuous initiatives to recycle more copper are indicative of a larger dedication to environmental management and sustainability. Effective copper recycling is crucial as the globe gets more electrified and technologically advanced. Incorporating recycled copper into production processes promotes the development of the sector and leaves the environment cleaner.

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