[Article from ScrapBook Autumn 2010]
If you are in the market to find a company authorized to melt lead cables there is only one place to look – Hals Metal A/S in Denmark. They are one of the few companies worldwide with permits to melt lead cables. Getting this permit was however not easy, but with a big patience and an environmental expert anything is possible.
Hals Metal A/S is active within recycling of transformers and casting containing lead, lead production, and trading in a large number of materials. This is one of few companies in the entire world who has the permits to melt lead cables.
In 1987 Mr Niels-Christian Nielsen started to investigate how to get a permit for burning cables. Together with an environmental expert, and much administrative paperwork they finally got the governmental permit in 1988. To melt lead permits are mandatory and the company is comprised by the environmental protection act. The authorization was provided by Nordjyllands Amt (Denmark), the environmental authority. Lead overexposure is one of the most common overexposures found in industry and is a leading cause of workplace illness. It is also a major potential public health risk. In general populations, lead may be present in hazardous concentrations in food, water, and air. It damages the nervous system and causes brain disorders. Excessive lead also causes blood disorders. Because of its hazardous nature many safety precautions are taken at Hals Metal.
When processing lead cables the cables are first pre-cut into smaller pieces (<1m). The lead is then removed by melting it in a furnace. The lead melt already at 327,5 degrees Celsius (621 degrees Fahrenheit) while iron melt at 1536 degrees Celsius (2797 degrees Fahrenheit) and copper at 1084 degrees Celsius (1983 degrees Fahrenheit). While the lead melts away the paper burns up, and just the rest of the cable remain. The lead it now ready for sale. It is the remaining of the cable (consisting of copper and iron) which is the problem. The copper and iron was then separated manually with a screen and suction. This was however hard, and time consuming labour.
Hals Metal A/S needed equipment that separates the iron from the copper in a ready to sell quality. The desired input capacity was 3 tons per processing hour. Since Eldan had done a lot of business with the former owners of Hals Metal, it was natural for the Hals Metal to ask Eldan for advice when looking to purchase equipment to expand the capacity.
Hals Metal A/S had previous knowledge of Eldan and its recycling equipment, which resulted in them initiating contact in 2009 to find a solution. “When Mr John Bjeldbak contacted me I immediately felt that it was a fun and interesting project. We had done business together before, and as far as I know they are the only lead cable melting company in the entire world.” says Jan Kjaer, product manager for various scrap processing at Eldan Recycling.
The idea was to find equipment which would separate the remaining copper and iron. In 2010 an Eldan S1000HammerMill was acquired, to separate these materials. First the cable would be pounded into pieces, and then the iron could be removed with a magnet. Remaining after the magnet was the copper. After being processed in this machine both the iron and copper was in ready to sell quality (size <25mm).
Today Hals Metal mostly purchase lead cables from other companies for own processing and recycling. It is however not uncommon that their services are hired by other companies for processing in Hals Metal’s facilities. Their main office is in Denmark, but they also have a sub office in Germany. Their main markets for business are Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
“There were two main reasons for us choosing Eldan as the manufacturer. First of all we knew of them from before. They have a good reputation in the industry, and we also have previous experience from their equipment” says John Bjeldbak. “Second, it is important for us to have good service at all times. When we need new spare and ware parts, we know that they are only a few hours away.”
“Since we are the only authorized lead cable melter in the market, business is going well. We are currently modernizing our furnace system to increase the processing capacity. The modernized furnace system will have a capacity of 3,6-7,2 tons per processing hour. Working seven days a week in three shifts, it can be as much as 27.000 – 54.000 tons a year, which is a huge increase compared with the max 3.600 tons processed in the old system” says John Bjeldbak.
“It is great to see that Hals Metal is doing so well. We have been in contact with them for a long time, and look forward to future contact as well” says Jan Kjaer.