Copper is key to electric vehicles, wind and solar power, as well as the infrastructure that transports and stores renewable energy. The energy transition will depend on copper even more in the near future, for this reason copper demand is estimated to nearly double by 2035.
What we do at Sims Metal, in Barnsley, is pretty unique: we process cables and recover up to 99% pure copper from them. It’s not only metals that get recovered from this process, but also plastics!
The cables, which come from both internal and external suppliers, are delivered to the facility, tipped and sorted out. The first stage of material sorting is usually manual, this ensures there is no other scrap metal residue mixed with our cables.
Once the non-conforming materials have been removed, the cables are piled together and prepared for the next step: the “super chopper”, a heavy-duty primary shredder designed as a first step in almost any recycling process.
The pre-shredded material is then fed into the box feeder. This is used to receive input materials and act as a storage and metering device to load the input material into the conveyor belts. At this point, a second manual sorting process takes place thanks to our guys at the picking belts who carefully remove the non-conforming materials that have managed to escape the first stage of sorting.
The shredded materials then go into the MPR (Multi Purpose Rasper), a shredder that will chop the cables down once more. At this stage, materials, such as copper and plastics, are separated from stainless steel thanks to a stainless steel separator that attracts the steel through magnets.
Copper and plastics will then move to the cable granulator, a machine that uses a dry physical cutting method to reduce the size of the cables into small granules. Copper and plastics are still mixed together at this stage.
It is only when they get to the next step, the air table, that they get separated. The air table, thanks to airflow and the gravity of different materials, separate the copper from the plastic. As copper is heavier than plastic, if the pieces are the same size, the copper and plastics separate through this method. In Barnsley we have two air tables and one after table.
Each and every stage of this will produce a cleaner final product, up to 99% pure copper!
The refined granules are then bagged and sold to manufacturers all over the world!
By complying with the latest technologies we can maximize our recovery rates and offer the best prices for your scrap cables.
All material arising from this process is reintroduced back into the economy. This contributes to reducing the need for extracting virgin metals, which means decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, saving natural resources and landfill diversion.