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New ‘Meretec’ recycling-process recovers 100pc of zinc coating from galvanised steel: cuts pollution, water use, mining waste

Posted by gmarkets on 11 October, 2007

The vast majority of steel used in the automotive, building and manufacturing industries was zinc coated (galvanised), to protect against corrosion, according to a statement by Southern Rocycling (28/9/2007).

Recycling initiative: Currently, scrap galvanised steel was either shipped offshore, or melted down in foundries, producing low-grade steel stock and releasing zinc-laden waste into the atmosphere, and landfill. The Meretec process recovered 100 per cent of the zinc powder, to be re-used in industry, and produced a high-grade black ‘Meretec Meitstock’ steel for recycling. Southern Rocycling executive director, Doug Rowe, described the new Meretec plant as “Australia’s biggest above-ground zinc mine”. “Our ability to collect and recycle zinc is endless, and with the price of zinc at around US$3,000 a tonne, it makes fantastic sense to recover it, rather than burning and dumping it,” Rowe said.

Re-use in industry: The Meretec plant had the capacity to handle 120,000 metric tonnes of steal scrap a year, recovering an estimated 2,000 tonnes of high-grade zinc, ready for re-use in industry. Much of the galvanised steel scrap to be processed in the plant would come from the automotive, building and manufacturing industries. “There are over 300,000 motor vehicles manufactured in Australia each year, and 40 per cent of the zinc coated steels used in the manufacturing process goes to scrap. And each year, an estimated 500,000 motor vehicles from the national fleet of over 14.4 million vehicles reaches their end-of-life, and goes to scrap.

Enviro benefits: “American EPA figures show that recycling steel (compared with producing new steel from iron ore), reduces air pollution by 86 per cent, water usage by 40 per cent, water pollution by 97 per cent and mining waste by 97 per cent. By way of comparison, producing 1 kilogram of steel from mining consumes 40MJ of energy, compared to only 272KJ to clean 1kg of steel using the Meretec process. Likewise, mining zinc requires 53MJ to make 1kg, whereas it takes only 33MJ to make 1kg of zinc through Meretec,” the company added.

Reference: Southern Rocycling, 28 September 2007; 71-85 Heatherdale Road, Ringwood 2147, Victoria. Phone: (03) 9873 2066. Fax: (03) 9873 2527.
http://www.southern-ro.com.au

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