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BASF and Heraeus to recover precious metals from automotive catalysts in China

A pile of scrap vehicles
The new company named BASF HERAEUS (China) Metal Resource Co., Ltd will be set up in Pinghu, China.

BASF and Heraeus have agreed to form a joint venture to recover precious metals from spent automotive catalysts. The new company named BASF HERAEUS (China) Metal Resource Co., Ltd will be set up in Pinghu, China. The founding of the legal entity is targeted in Q1 2022, following the approval of the relevant authorities. Construction is planned to begin in 2022, with start of operations in 2023.

China has limited natural resources in platinum group metals (PGMs) consisting predominately of platinum, palladium, and rhodium and strongly relies on imports. Recycling scrap materials, such as spent automotive catalytic converters, to recover PGMs, enable a circular economy. The precious metals are used to make new products for the automotive, chemical, electronics, and green hydrogen industries. Recycled precious metals have as much as a 90 percent lower CO2 footprint than primary metals from a mine. Ensuring a local supply of recycled precious metals for China is an enabler for a sustainable future.

"Through the partnership with Heraeus, we will bring best-in-class pyrometallurgy technology for the recovery of precious metals from spent automotive catalysts in China and help improve resource utilization for high-tech and other companies that use precious metals," said Tim Ingle, Vice President of BASF Precious Metals Refining, Chemicals & Battery Recycling. "BASF's leading position in automotive catalysts recycling and our combined expertise in precious metals will provide customers with a world-class circular economy solution to re-use precious metals in China."

"This [joint venture] JV builds on our already strong presence in China within the wet-chemical recycling industry," said Marius Vigener, Vice President Business Line Chemicals at Heraeus Precious Metals. "Recycled precious metals minimize emissions and will enable our customers to reduce their CO2 footprint. This will support China in the development of its circular economy and contribute significantly to the stability of local precious metal supplies."

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