LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News Vol 1 no 3 Spring 1993   ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Tour of a Battery Recycling Factory - ARA

Australian Refined Alloys Pty Ltd

ARA operates one lead acid battery recycling facility in Australia, located at Alexandria in Sydney.

Simstar Alloys Pty Ltd, Australia (Previously ARA Melbourne) 50% Nyrstar interest Lead battery recycling operation Simstar Alloys Pty Ltd operates a lead acid battery recycling business in Laverton, Melbourne. Nyrstar is the operating partner.

(Previously a joint venture agent for Simsmetal Ltd. and Pasminco Metals (BHAS) Pty. Ltd.)

The following notes in bold and the typed labels on the graphic constituted the hand out. Additional notes were gleaned from the tour and discussion, which took place on 1 Oct 93.

Recycling of Lead

  • Lead acid batteries account for 64% of lead usage. These batteries store energy for cars, trucks, buses, fork-lifts and other off-road vehicles, submarines, planes and telephone exchanges.

  • By 2010 this end use will consume more than 70% due to the expected increase in the number of electric vehicles.

  • Lead is the most recycled of any commodity (including paper, glass, plastic, aluminium, steel). 52 % of world lead production is currently from secondary smelting, 48 % is from primary smelting of mined lead. The market value for lead is the lowest it has ever been.

  • There is about 100,000 tonnes of lead in batteries on Australian roads (12.7 million). Some trucks have two batteries.

  • 3.8 million batteries are scrapped each year in Australia. The average life of a car battery is 42 months (range 35-45 months) though some last for 6 years.

  • The Australian battery recycling rate is 9397% according to a Pasminco study, 85% according to the Industries Assistance Commission. Methods used to determine recycling rates vary. Recycling rates can exceed 1 ()() % (eg in Sweden) when stored or stockpiled batteries are returned.

  • Australian Refined Alloys Pty. Ltd. recycles 2.4 million batteries in two plants, in Sydney and Melbourne, plus any other lead scrap. The remaining 1.4 million batteries are exported to NZ, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan for secondary smelting.

Occupational Health

The average blood lead level of the Sydney ARA workers is 29.5 g/dL, and steadily dropping due to the improved containment of lead fumes at the smelter, improved housekeeping and hygiene, financial incentives ($24/week ,'bonus for levels below 30 g/dL) etc. Two and a half years ago, the average blood lead level of non-smoking workers was around 30 g/dL while smoking workers averaged 50 g/dL. Since then, smoking is banned on site and all workers remove work clothes, shower (washing hair and nails) and put on civvies in the clean room. Work clothes are laundered daily on site. Further improvements are planned to enclose the lead smelter in order to allow negative pressure to build up and improve the effectiveness of the extractor fan. The extractor fan waste is collected and recycled.

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Last Updated 08 November 2012
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