Due to the nature of the materials used in metallurgical production, an impact on the environment is inevitable. This process is constantly being optimized in order to diminish the impact on the environment, a main priority of Aurubis Bulgaria.
From company privatization in 1997 until now, almost € 600 million has been invested in modernization, € 100 million of which has been used to implement measures to enhance the company’s environmental performance. An important investment was made between 2006 and 2008 for the construction of a gas cleaning system costing € 12.5 million.
In line with the major modernization, two state-of-the-art environmental protection facilities were built and commissioned in the recent years. A new rainwater treatment plant started up in November 2014. The plant treats rainwater and drainage water from the company premises, an area of 4 km², in order to reduce water emissions.
A new second gas cleaning system is in normal operation since March 2016. The new system employs a modern sulfuric acid technology, Sulfacid, which is unique for Bulgaria as well as for the global copper smelting industry. This new emission control installation is further reducing the sulfur dioxide and fugitive emissions from the smelter.
Aurubis takes responsibility for environmental protection. As nature conservation and biodiversity being one of the environmental targets Aurubis Bulgaria improves the living conditions of plants and animals and voluntarily restored areas by planting grasses, bushes and trees. Decommissioned landfill areas on the premises of Aurubis Bulgaria will be remediated as part of the closure procedure.
Other environmental projects that reduce further emissions also leads to positive effects on the environment. A reduction of metal emissions into water for example will improve the living conditions in rivers.
Since 2006 Aurubis Bulgaria has implemented an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. The latest recertification and transition to the new requirements of ISO 14001 in 2015 has been successfully completed in 2018. The external audits of the Management System include a review of the environmental data, compliance with legal provisions and a verification that operating processes are effective.
The site in Pirdop has been part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme since 2008. The site has consistently improved its energy efficiency over the years. It is the site’s ambition to invest in additional environmental measures and energy efficiency enhancements.
Following our guiding principles, we set ourselves annual targets for environmental protection and pollution prevention by applying the best techniques and practices. The low level of pollution in the Pirdop region where the plant is located is a result of the continuing additional development and modernization of the production process and the stable functioning of the gas cleaning system.
Throughout the recent years numerous technical and organizational measures have been taken to diminish the high level of emission control and minimize all releases of harmful substances into the air and water.
Aurubis Bulgaria has an Air Quality Monitoring System in operation since 1999 and includes four monitoring points. In all four points continuous monitoring of sulfur dioxide is carried out, as in one of them fine particles are monitored.
The specific emissions of SO2 (Kg/t), dust and heavy metals have been reduced by 96 % from the year 2000 until now.
Throughout the last few years the efficiency of the existing wastewater cleaning systems has been considerably improved. The sewage networks for industrial and household wastewater have been completely renovated and the rain and drainage sewage has been partially reconstructed. The local cleaning equipment has been renovated (oil and water separators, sedimentation tanks) and new ones have been constructed, which has prevented petroleum products from entering the wastewater that is discharged.
In order to achieve additional improvements as regards the water quality, in 2014 was opened a new water treatment plant for waste water from rain-drainage sewers. Design and capacity is 250 m3 / hour, and the investment exceeds 10 million leva. With new sewer branches, the rain and drainage water from the entire industrial site of the company will be conveyed to the treatment plant for purification to achieve the parameters required for discharge. The project envisages compensating basins to retain the entire water volumes during heavy rains – there are two of those in the region of the plant with a total capacity of 46,500 m3. The technology, design and equipment were developed by the German company ЕnviroChemie. The process is fully automated. The control software is PCS-7, V8 developed by the German company Siemens. It is implemented by the Automation Group of
Aurubis Bulgaria AD. The construction activities of the project are implemented by a consortium called “Port Build Engineering”, which consists entirely of local companies (Polistroy 21, Oloplast, Reizh, Trans Build and Himgardsystem).
The efficient use of the water resources and the decrease in water consumption is another corporate aim in which there has been a substantial improvement in implementation. The total water consumption at Aurubis Bulgaria in 2017 decreased by 30 % compared to the consumption in 2003.
The specific metal water emissions (g/t) per ton of copper output have decreased by 97% since the year 2000.
Energy consumption and climate protection
Electricity consumption is among the highest production expenses in the metallurgical process. Because of this, the decrease in the total and specific consumption of electricity is a main priority for the company. To this end, there is an energy efficiency management system operating at Aurubis Bulgaria. As a result of the efforts made, the technological improvements and the process optimization, the total consumption of electricity has decreased by almost 40 % in the latest ten years.
Since 2007 Aurubis Bulgaria has been a participant in the EU greenhouse gas emission trading scheme. Until 2012 the scheme had only covered Aurubis Bulgaria’s steampower station. As of 2012 the scheme includes smelter production.
In 2021 with the entry into the new phase IV of the EU's greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme, Aurubis Bulgaria amends the rules for monitoring and reporting of CO2 emissions, in connection with which a new monitoring plan for the greenhouse gases.
Aurubis Bulgaria is constantly making efforts to improve energy efficiency by focusing on organizational and technological solutions. The energy efficiency improvement contributes not only to decreasing the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, but also decreases the expenses, which increases the competitiveness of the organization worldwide.