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8th ISLC in Siem Reap Local Report Part 4: RETECH from China, Pure Earth, JGI

RE Technology

 

It appears that a Chinese lead refining equipment company RETECH, which has also set up a booth at the event venue, currently has the top market share for refining companies in China. 

 

 

Companies installing RETECH’s equipment include a major Chinese lead refiner Leoch. 

Mr. Benny Liu from RETECH explained how the history of lead battery recycling by Chinese companies can be divided into 4 eras. 

 

Lead battery recycling began in the 1950s, and up until the 1980s, the main technical equipment was less sophisticated. 

The 90s was the era of manual dismantling, but an initiative of using small blast furnaces for melting was introduced.

From 2000, dismantling and crushing were automated. It was the era when people witnessed the upgrade of desulphurisation equipment and the switch to rotary furnaces. 

However, the rotary furnaces had problems with airtightness, resulting in some lead leaking into the air. It also led to a controversial situation where the increasing level of lead in the blood of employees at the plant was detected. Another drawback of the rotary furnaces was the requirement to replace the bricks every 10 months.

 

Since 2018, the Chinese Government has changed its policy, letting only major companies with large and modern equipment survive. A selective era with focus. One issue common to this period was that many companies prioritised the disposal of scraps, at the expense of updating their equipment.

 

RETECH has developed a recycling system called OSBS (Oxygen-rich Side Blown Bath Smelting). There are 4 companies using this system inside China, resulting in a total processing capacity of 1.05 million tonnes per year. 

This OSBS seems to possess 42 patents and be regarded as the mainstream technology in the current Chinese lead refining process, with 70% of Chinese secondary lead refiners installing this technology.

 

 

 

 

Pure Earth

 

 

An environmental NGO Pure Earth, established in the US in 1999, is the biggest NGO in the world among the lead industry.

They conduct soil surveys where lead recycling is performed worldwide, and their recent report confirmed some sites/spots where high levels of toxic substances were found, particularly in Bangladesh and India. Mr. Andrew McCartor from Pure Earth stressed that this had recently been taken up for the first time at the G7.

 

Shocking news was also heard through the announcement that the World Bank shortly plans to publish a report, claiming that the IQ of children under the age of five seemed to have dropped by a total of one billion points, due to illegal lead operations.

For example, in Ghana, three factories were forced to shut down as a result of their soil surveys. A major smelter, Gravita appears to be the only factory currently surviving in Ghana.

 

Mr. McCartor also raised a question about the situation of the current financial assistance, whereby compared to $10 billion funding for AIDS, there is no such financial aid for lead, whilst the health effects of lead are regarded as serious as AIDS, 

 

 

 

Engitec Technologies

 

According to a major lead refining equipment company Engitec, Brazil and India have a high potential, whilst the African market is difficult to develop.

The lead recycling facilities installed by Engitec account for 50% of the world’s total, and a Japanese company Daiseki MCR has also installed Engitec’s plants.

In terms of the scale of the facilities, North and Central America are witnessing larger scale ones, whilst the Middle East mainly choose small and medium ones.

 

 

 

JGI Thailand

 

It was explained by Mr. Boris Geuvens from JGI that lead-acid batteries occupied the fourth-biggest demand in terms of tin usage, with 27,000 tonnes of tin used in the batteries annually.

JGI is not only a lead supplier but also a supplier of recycled tin and therefore they purchase lead batteries actively.

It was also reported that a new process conducted at their factory in Thailand used reagents to extract a high yield rate of lead, tin and antimony.

 

 

(iruniverse tanamachi, translated by A.C.)

 

 

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