Environmental protection at Lünen

The Lünen site is an important recycling center of Aurubis AG.

With a production capacity of about 250,000 t of copper cathodes per year, the plant, which is just one kilometer away from Lünen Town Hall, is one of  the world’s largest secondary copper smelters.

Lünen’s smelting and refining processes involve recycling raw materials almost exclusively. In addition to traditional recycling raw materials such as copper scrap, alloy scrap, sludges, and industrial residues, these also include to a large extent more complex materials such as processing products from e-waste, end-of-life vehicles, and waste incineration ashes.

Improvements and investments in environmental protection also have high priority in Lünen. Around € 123 million has been invested in environmental protection since 2000. The Kayser Recycling System (KRS) initially set new precedents in environmental protection, e.g., through a house-in-house concept for the extraction of emission hot spots. Additional capital expenditure followed, especially for reducing fugitive emissions in metallurgical facilities and in the storage and handling of feed materials. The emission reduction concept agreed on with the relevant governmental authorities for the period from 2005 to 2009 was initially estimated at about € 10 million, for example, but was then expanded with additional measures after the fact with further capital expenditure of € 25 million. 

In order to reduce water consumption, a rainwater retention, treatment, and utilization system is operated with a total investment volume of around € 4.5 million. Every year, more than 100,000 m³ of treated rainwater can be used for internal purposes and thus saved. The system is continuously improved.

The efficient use of energy is an ecological and economic obligation for Aurubis. Innovative projects to increase energy efficiency ensure highly efficient and flexible electricity generation at the Lünen site. We achieve this, for example, by utilizing waste heat, i.e., converting it into electricity and using the residual heat. In this way, we achieve the maximum possible energy utilization at the recycling site. The combined heat and power generation plant, a two-stage steam turbine, generates up to 23 million kWh of electricity (equivalent to about 14 % of the site's electricity demand or the average electricity demand of about 6,500 three-person households) and at the same time avoids up to 14,000 t of CO2 annually. The German Energy Agency's Energy Efficiency Initiative classified the project as exemplary and awarded it the Best Practice Energy Efficiency label in 2015.

The Lünen plant premises are just a few kilometers from multiple nature conservation (Natura 2000) areas. Respecting and promoting biodiversity is therefore a top priority. Apart from observing impacts of larger expansion projects on biodiversity, measures are actively taken to promote and maintain biodiversity in smaller projects and in the neighborhood. These include planting greenery in unused plant areas and setting up nesting sites on buildings and chimneys.

The environmental management system at the Lünen site has been certified in accordance with EMAS and ISO 14001 since 1997. Together with the ISO 9001-certified quality management, it forms the IMS (integrated management system), which has also included an energy management system pursuant to ISO 50001 since 2013. The external audits carried out as part of the certification of the management system include a review of the environmental data, of the fulfillment of legal provisions, and of the effectiveness of the operating processes. 

You can find detailed environmental information for the Lünen site in the current Environmental Statement.

Environmental Protection - facts & figures
Dust emissions

Dust emissions per ton of copper output have been reduced by about 76 % since 2000.

Copper emissions

Copper emissions per ton of input material have been reduced by about 84 % since 2000.

Energy consumption

Specific energy consumption [MWh/t secondary raw material input]

By commissioning the new bath melting furnace in 2002 and the TBRC (Top Blown Rotary Converter) in 2011, we were able to significantly increase our energy efficiency. The specific energy indicator in relation to the input of recycling raw materials illustrates in concrete terms the strategy of multi-metal recycling chosen for the Lünen site. With more or less unchanged cathode copper production, metal production is generated from a high and increasing input of complex and low-copper recycling raw materials. As the average copper content in the raw materials decreases, the share of by-metals such as zinc, tin, nickel, gold, and silver increases significantly. The trend reversal in 2014 shows that the increasingly complex raw materials are becoming more energy-intensive to process.  

Environmental Protection Measures & Projects
Reduction of air emissions

Next steps:

  • Assessment of the emission effects after closure of the smelting operations hall and, if necessary, closure of the KRS roof ventilation.


  • Measures are discussed and prioritized together with the authorities
    (closure of the ridge turrets, storage halls, etc.)

Improvement of odor immissions in the plant surroundings

Next steps:

  • Measures to improve the air flow conditions of individual production halls and additional
    storage halls in the southern area of the plant


  • The measures have been budgeted and will be implemented as part of upcoming 
    construction measures.

Optimization of the water flows

Next steps:

  • Separate treatment of the remediation water


  • Detailed coordination with the responsible authorities is currently ongoing

Increasing energy efficiency

Next steps:

  • Heat utilization and water quality of the anode smelter circuits and the leaching plant are optimized to increase performance

  • Increasing the direct use of heat from waste heat

  • Efficiency increase KRS


  • Concepts are also being developed with external support. Projects are included in the investment budget.

  • Implemented: annual savings of 32,000 MWh natural gas and 6,500 t CO2

  • Implemented: annual savings of 36,400 MWh oil and 10,000 t CO2

Transition to the requirements of the Seveso III Directive


  • Public disclosuret


  • The documents are accessible on the internet, the visitor and external company instructions have been revised. A general guideline on conduct and clothing regulations has been established for employees and external companies/visitors and are part of plant briefings.

Organizational improvements

Next steps:

  • Results improvement projects and project organization 


  • The system for the continuous improvement of procedures and processes (AOS) was merged organizationally with the Integrated Management System.

Environmental Protection milestones at Lünen site

Start of the modernization of the tankhouse. Aurubis AG is investing a total of € 60 million in the renewal of the plant over the next four years. The work includes the demolition and new construction of the tankhouse basins, and the efficiency improvement of the plant will increase the capacity by about 10 %. During the modernization in sections, the plant will remain in operation with an 80 % capacity.


Commissioning of a two-stage steam turbine (5.7 MWel) to use up to 300,000 t of process steam for internal energy generation and use.


Conversion of the plant's mixed sewer system into a separate sewer system (operational wastewater, sanitary water, and rainwater) in connection with rainwater retention and collection (RAN system, 9,000 m3 retention volume). This enables the use of collected rainwater as internal service water for cooling processes and thus a savings of more than 100,000 m3 of water drawn from the public supply.


Complete closure and extraction of the smelter hall. As a result of this measure, the entire melting processes of the Lünen plant, from the bath melting furnace to the anode furnace, including the halls for transport and charging, have been completely exhausted. Emissions from the site have thus been minimized far beyond the state of the art.


Commissioning of a converter furnace (TBRC) as part of the KRS+ efficiency project. As a result of this process technology improvement, the Lünen site was able to increase its throughput by more than 30 % while maintaining the same overall primary energy input for the plant.


Installation of a truck tire washing system, which all delivery vehicles must pass through before leaving the factory, to further minimize dust emissions from the factory.


Construction of a noise protection barrier at the material delivery in the southern area of the plant to reduce noise emissions from delivery traffic on the adjacent properties.


Implementation of the Kayser Recycling System (KRS) in the course of the plant modernization after the takeover by Aurubis AG (then Norddeutsche Affinerie AG). Commissioning of a highly efficient ISA bath melting furnace and a tin composite furnace with state-of-the-art filter technology to replace the site's old shaft furnaces.

Your Contact
Andreas Nolte
Andreas Nolte

Leiter Allgemeine Services Aurubis Lünen, Qualitäts- und Energiemanagement

Phone +49 2306 108-244
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