Sustainable development, environmental protection and occupational health
Sustainability as part of the company strategy
Sustainable conduct and economic activities are among the central components of Aurubis’ company strategy. For Aurubis, acting responsibly means having a conscientious attitude towards the environment and limited natural resources. It includes responsible interactions with employees, suppliers, customers, neighbors and the plant areas and communities where Aurubis is active.
Responsible business practices are also the foundation of our operating business. Together with healthy growth, this builds the foundation for sustainable economic success and a secure future for the Company.
Internal regulations and management systems, the PRIMA Company values and statutory provisions create the basis for responsible Company management at Aurubis. The Group’s five corporate values, PRIMA, include Responsibility as well as Performance, 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. Aurubis has participated in the United Nations Global Compact since December 2014 and has thus committed to implementing the Global Compact’s principles. The progress made in the year the Global Compact was signed was published in the Communication on Progress 2014.
Aurubis is listed in the Global Challenges Index, a sustainability index for which oekom research issued the sustainability rating.
Sustainability as part of the corporate culture
A key topic in the Aurubis Group is the continued integration of sustainability in the corporate culture. Aurubis achieves a great deal in this area at all of the sites in the Group and across all business processes. We have initiated a variety of measures to minimize possible effects of business activities on the environment, but also on employees and society, as much as possible early on.
In order to address this sustainability approach more systematically, Aurubis developed a comprehensive Sustainability Strategy in fiscal year 2012/13 and made it public in 2014. The Sustainability Strategy establishes the main areas of activity for the coming years. Based on these areas, targets in the categories of the economy, the environment and people as well as action plans for individual areas have been developed.
For example, Aurubis will continue generating and implementing ideas from Innovation Management, reducing emissions, expanding recycling of complex materials, increasing occupational safety, dealing more intensively with its responsibility in the supply chain and intensifying its dialogue with interest groups: this includes the European Union and its member states on the topic of a circular economy.
The rise in questions and demands from different relevant interest groups validates this approach. Customers are placing a stronger emphasis on environmentally friendly products but also on modern production processes and a secure and responsible raw material supply. For example, customers asked Aurubis to participate in the investor initiative Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a climate protection rating project. Aurubis was distinguished as Best Newcomer Germany on November 4, 2015.
Standards for resource efficiency, environmentally friendly recycling management and multi-metal recycling solutions are increasing. Business partners are very interested in discussing sustainability issues. One example is Aurubis’ cooperation with Grillo-Werke AG, which comprises a joint approach to closing material cycles.
From a thematic and organizational group-wide perspective, sustainability is part of Corporate Communications & External Affairs at Aurubis. Sustainability Management carries out the daily work in this area together with representatives from all of the Group’s departments.
Comprehensive sustainability reporting
The fourth Aurubis Sustainability Report was published in 2014. It provides an extensive and detailed sustainability balance of the two previous fiscal years and is supplemented with online reporting.
The new Sustainability Report on fiscal years 2013/14 and 2014/15 will be published in spring 2016. The report’s alignment with the internationally recognized reporting standard Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) makes the Company’s sustainability reporting more transparent and easier to compare. In addition to the relevant key parameters, the Sustainability Report outlines successes, targets and challenges and presents the Aurubis Sustainability Strategy.
The next report will follow higher reporting standards (GRI G4), which we are pleased to fulfill within the framework of our Sustainability Strategy. In the course of producing the report, we will address the Company’s main sustainability issues and carry out a stakeholder survey.
Aurubis is thus well positioned to fulfill the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reporting obligation, according to which large companies of public interest have to report about strategies, risks and results related to environmental, social and employee issues, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and diversity in management and supervisory bodies starting in 2017. The Sustainability Report and Annual Report are already produced in close cooperation between the relevant departments.
Environmental protection in the Group
Aurubis assumes responsibility for environmental and climate protection. At Aurubis, production is carried out in an environmentally sound manner using state-of-the-art, energy-efficient plant technologies with very high environmental standards in order to conserve natural resources and to 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 key environmental parameters and established measures to achieve the targets across the Group. The effectiveness of these targets and measures is reviewed continuously.
Capital expenditure for environmental protection at Aurubis, copper production
Topics in Group environmental protection until 2015
Group-wide environmental management systems (in accordance with ISO 14001 in particular and supplemented by the participation of Aurubis AG in the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, EMAS) support the implementation of environmental and climate protection objectives. Goals are recorded, deviations are evaluated and corrective measures are initiated and monitored for their effectiveness.
Moreover, energy management systems in accordance with ISO 50001 have been implemented at several sites. The annual external audit offers us the opportunity to have the successful implementation of environmental protection measures confirmed by an independent third party and to recognize 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.
The continuous improvement of water pollution control, soil conservation, climate protection and immission protection is the condition for sustainable environmental protection. For that reason, more than € 500 million has been invested in environmental protection measures in primary and secondary copper production since 2000.
Sulfur dioxide is formed when copper is produced from copper concentrates. When compared internationally, Aurubis is a forerunner in reducing specific sulfur dioxide emissions. Specific dust emissions for primary and secondary copper production have been reduced by 96 % compared to 2000.
In addition to reducing emissions to air, we have also made significant improvements in water pollution control. We have reduced metal emissions to water in copper production processes from 7.2 to 1.3 g per ton of copper output since 2000, or by 82 %. Thus, we achieved the environmental protection target of reducing emissions to water by roughly 70 % by 2015 during this reporting period. Emissions to water were reduced by more than a quarter compared to the previous year alone. Our goal is now to maintain this low level in the future as well.
The following are examples of measures that have strongly contributed to ongoing improvements in environmental protection:
- As part of our voluntary agreement on emission reduction with the city of Hamburg, cutback potential was identified and emission reduction measures were agreed on with the Authority for the Environment and Energy. As a result, the collection of fugitive emissions in primary copper production was improved with the installation of additional hoods.
- A rainwater retention facility that started up at the Lünen site in spring 2014 has been in normal operation without any trouble. The collected water now covers a large proportion of the plant’s internal cooling and process water needs.
- A water treatment plant was commissioned at the Bulgarian site in Pirdop in November 2014. With a capacity of 216 m3/h and multiple catch basins with a volume of 32,000 m3, the plant treats the site’s surface water in particular, thus increasing the water quality. Moreover, a new off-gas treatment facility was started up that contributes to reducing air emissions further.
Aurubis led an open dialogue with authorities and citizens across the Group in 2014/15 again and was involved in a number of projects.
For example, we are participating in the three-year testing and development phase of the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) together with the overarching European association Eurometaux and the European Copper Institute (ECI). 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 are taking part in 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. Many ideas on the topics of employee mobility and efficient carpooling have already been developed. For example, a bike safety check is offered for employees to support cyclists’ safety in the dark part of the year.
We continue to raise employees’ awareness of these issues, as this is an essential condition for successful environmental protection.
Striving for energy efficiency, resource efficiency and environmental protection can nevertheless lead to conflicting goals. For instance, while processing complex recycling materials is very resource-efficient, it usually requires high energy consumption. We continuously work on developing environmental and climate protection in order to reduce our effects on the environment to a minimum.
Our Environmental Report contains more information on environmental protection in the Aurubis Group. It is available online in the “Responsibility” section.
Energy supply and energy efficiency are of fundamental importance
The fabrication steps in the value chain are complex and copper production is very energy-intensive. As a result, there were significant influences from the energy sector during fiscal year 2014/15. The German energy turnaround, the start of the third European emissions trading period and the implementation of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive took center stage yet again.
As part of their climate protection efforts, companies that emit carbon dioxide must now have all of the corresponding rights for this. However, the free allocation of CO2 certificates announced for February 2013 was not issued until early 2014. Aurubis has filed an appeal against some of these allocation notifications, so the exact number of allowances isn’t foreseeable yet.
The competitiveness of European industry is reduced by local additional CO2 costs. To balance these effects, so-called carbon leakage sectors were established, including the copper industry. This status, which softens the effect of the general reduction of CO2 certificate allocation to a great extent, will be reviewed by the European Commission every five years and applies to copper up to and including 2019. Nevertheless, the announced political readjustments of emissions trading in European industry lead to uncertainties and affect our ability to plan and our competitive edge.
As an energy-intensive company, the efficient use of energy isn’t just an ecological but also an economic responsibility for Aurubis. All of the sites utilize energy as sparingly as possible and consistently work on productivity and efficiency enhancements.
In 2007 the EU member states agreed to reduce primary energy consumption by 20 % by 2020. The EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) went into effect on December 4, 2012. It comprises a broad spectrum of different sectors and outlines activities to strengthen energy efficiency that are to be implemented by the member states. This includes the execution of mandatory energy audits by December 5, 2015. All of the main German sites in the Aurubis Group have developed an energy management system, carry out energy audits and are certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 50001 in the meantime. We therefore fulfill the basic conditions to continue being subject to a lower German Renewable Energies Act (EEG) reallocation charge and lower energy/electricity taxes. Furthermore, this enables us to operate energy-efficient plant technologies systematically and to identify and implement measures to save additional energy. In order to discuss experiences beyond the plant boundaries, we participate in the energy efficiency network of the German Metals Industry Association. An internal network is currently in the planning stage.
Our innovative project for highly efficient and flexible electricity production and heat utilization based on process waste heat started up in November 2014. It was awarded the Best Practice in Energy Efficiency 2015 label and was nominated for the German Energy Agency’s international Energy Efficiency Award 2015.
The electricity costs on the EEX (European Energy Exchange) decreased further in the course of the fiscal year owing to declining coal prices and the price level for CO2 certificates, which is still low despite a slight increase. In addition, the accelerated energy turnaround in Germany heavily influences the electricity price level as well. Exceedingly volatile electricity from renewable energy makes up more than 25 % of gross electricity production in the meantime and suppresses conventional electricity since it is preferentially fed in. The result is that expensive gas power plants are hardly crucial for pricing anymore but instead mainly brown and hard coal power plants. The electricity exchange prices in the countries bordering Germany are also affected.
The Aurubis Group bases its electricity supply in Germany on a virtual “power plant slice” based on hard coal. We therefore don’t benefit from the price reduction effects of renewable energies but from falling coal prices worldwide and the low CO2 price level.
According to present knowledge, there will be no additional charges from the ruling on the state aid investigation regarding the German EEG in the past periods. However, legislators reacted to European objections and are ruling out the possibility of a complete exemption from grid charges in the future.
In order to identify possible limitations but also the potential of making electricity more flexible for the Aurubis plants, the Company is participating in “NEW 4.0”, a large project with more than 50 partners from the federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. NEW 4.0 aims at implementing a sustainable energy supply for industry and thus strengthening the region’s future viability.
The flexibilization possibilities and energy efficiency potential will be analyzed with the support of simulation models that flow into our Industry 4.0 activities.
In order to protect international sectors like the copper industry from competitive disadvantages, the EU has already authorized limited compensation for electricity price increases stemming from CO2 emissions trading. Corresponding funding guidelines have been passed for Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium and are being planned for Finland. Even the complete compensation approved in Germany is only 50 % effective in the copper industry due to EU regulations.
The exchange prices for natural gas decreased continuously in the course of fiscal year 2014/15, reaching lows towards the end of the fiscal year. The main reason for the lower prices is the good natural gas supply in Europe. A very cold winter in 2015/16 is currently the greatest risk for increasing prices again. Furthermore, the lower oil prices placed pressure on some of the import contracts. They also reduced prices for the liquid gas supply (propane) at the Pirdop and Pori sites. Due to new LNG (liquefied natural gas) export capacities, we expect a good supply of natural gas in Europe despite falling internal production. The US in particular will be an LNG exporter starting in 2016 and will place additional pressure on the market.
Health protection in the Group
The accident frequency among our employees decreased again in fiscal year 2014/15. The accident frequency measure LTIFR (1-n) decreased by 19.2 % compared to the previous year, to 6.3 (number of work-related accidents with at least one lost shift per one million hours worked). The absolute number of accidents fell from 80 to 63. There were no accident-related fatalities in the Group.
We have been setting occupational safety targets and actively publicizing them since 2010. Our objective is an LTIFR (1-n) of ≤ 3.0 in 2022 with an overall goal of a completely accident-free work environment at Aurubis. The target for fiscal year 2014/15 was set at LTIFR (1-n) ≤ 7.2. Aurubis was well below this limit at 6.3. We have defined a limit of ≤ 6.0 for fiscal year 2015/16.
It is our daily responsibility to provide technical, organizational and personal conditions that prevent all work-related accidents and illnesses. We are committed to this responsibility.