Commodities company Trafigura and battery reycler Ecobat announced that Trafigura has completed the acquisition of Ecobat Resources Stolberg, owner of the Stolberg metals processing plant in Germany.
Neil Hawkes, Principal Analyst at business intelligence body CRU, told BEST that CRU understands the plant is continuing to build up feed stocks ahead of resuming operations in approximately two weeks’ time.
“There is some uncertainty of what the eventual ‘steady state’ refined lead production rate will be, as it depends on the mix of feed. CRU’s view is that a greater focus on silver, rather than lead recoveries from concentrates and higher secondary feed volumes, will result in lower refined lead production than before,” he said.
As for what it will mean for the lead-acid battery industry, he said: “The obvious really – more primary lead for LAB manufacturers. The absence of Stolberg since July 2021 notably tightened up the European lead market, so its restart and ramp-up in production should notably ease tightness in metal availability in this region.
“The expectation is that Trafigura will sell most of the Stolberg lead within Europe to meet its contractual commitments, though it could also look at shipping some over to North America as this region continues to run a deficit, keeping premia relatively higher than in Europe.”
The European Commission confirmed on 1 February that it had finally approved the acquisition.
The Stolberg plant, which produced lead for the lead-acid battery market, will be operated and managed by Nyrstar, a multi-metals mining and smelting company. Nyrstar is 98%-owned by the Trafigura Group and also produces zinc and lead.
Ecobat CEO Marcus Randolph said last July when the deal was first announced that the sale of ERS was consistent with its strategy of concentrating on its core battery recycling business.
Nyrstar operates three zinc smelters within a 300-km radius of the Stolberg plant and said it would leverage several of Nyrstar’s by-products as feed material for Stolberg.