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Red Metal Roundup

Estelle Takes Reins at CDA

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MCN Editor Dan Markham Leading trade group for red metals promotion has change at the top. 

For more than a quarter century, the Copper Development Association was guided by the same individual, Andy Kireta. That changed this year, when Kireta resigned to head up ASTM International and Adam Estelle was promoted to the top with the domestic association that serves as the market development, engineering and information services arm of the copper industry.

Estelle has plenty of experience, having worked under Kireta for more than 15 years, first as a project engineer, then the director of rod and bar and finally the vice president.  

“My experiences over the last 16 years at the Copper Development Association will be tremendously helpful in the transition as I’ve had a chance to explore and experience different segments and facets of the copper value chain,” he told Metal Center News. “The journey from copper mining and recycling to market is a long and intricate pathway and I’ve had the privilege of spending a lot of quality time with our members and industry leaders who graciously educated me on what it really takes to bring the value of copper to society.” 

Estelle picks up the leadership role at an important moment in the material’s evolution, as the world is undergoing a transformation in the way it produces and distributes energy. Industry observers believe copper will play a major role in that shift.

“With copper taking center stage in the clean energy transition, infrastructure projects and the decarbonization of other industry segments, we’re facing significant challenges and opportunities to meet demand projections and keep up with the rapidly evolving technologies and system designs that all depend on copper.  It’s going to take a full value chain approach to rise to the occasion and we’re going to need robust communication channels between each segment to ensure optimal use of the material,” Estelle said of the major issue facing the industry.

The CDA is already engaged in a number of major initiatives to support its members, including advocating for copper’s inclusion on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Critical Minerals List, arming members with practical guidance on how to calculate and communicate the recycled content in their products to various stakeholders and working to electrify the country’s fleet of school buses, among others. “We’re active across all major semi-fabricated product forms and many end-use markets.  Our subscription-based business model empowers our members to create focus and align their CDA investment with where they see value.  Our success is predicated on our members being truly engaged and taking an active role in setting the priorities and identifying the risks and opportunities that CDA needs to address,” he said.

Looking forward, Estelle’s vision for the organization is threefold, “to thrive, create meaningful impact in the market and deliver exceptional value to our members. End-users don’t specify or install a cathode, or a brass rod or a No. 2 scrap package, so it’s our job to work up and down the value chain and help copper and its alloys find their way into the right applications and markets at the right time,” he said.

Wieland Adds Product to Lead-Free Brass Line
The Wieland Group has introduced a new line of lead-free brass with its SZ product family, specifically the eco SZ3 alloy. 

As part of the ecoline family, the SZ3 boasts unprecedented quality and outperforms the previous lead-free alloys, rendering them excellent alternatives for comparable lead-containing alloys, Wieland claimed. The stricter regulatory requirements and the rising demand for green products prompted the development of new lead-free copper alloys that retained properties like those of the leaded variants. 

“Customers from all over the world are already benefiting from our intensive research and development in the field of lead-free alloys and the extensive expertise of our team,” said Dr. Erwin Mayr, CEO of the Wieland Group. “We actively support our customers in their sustainable transition from lead to lead-free alloys.” 

The new flagship product, eco SZ3, meets all current requirements placed on leaded materials CuZn40Pb2 and CuZn39Pb3, such as conductivity, corrosion resistance and mechanical properties. Eco SZ3 has excellent hot-stamping properties. And, while the alloy contains less than 0.1 percent lead, it also has good machinability, Wieland said. These properties make the material highly attractive for use in industries such as plumbing, electrical and automotive. 

In addition to the excellent machining properties of eco SZ3, its copper-zinc ratio of 60:40 ensures a reduced metal price component and high economic efficiency. 

Eco SZ3 is part of the CuZnSiP alloy family. Because it contains the same alloying elements, a slight mixing of chips and scrap within the alloy family remains possible. Moreover, the machine does not require cleaning when changing alloys. Like their lead-containing counterparts, one can rework the chips and scrap into new rods without losing quality or recyclability – making the eco SZ3 exceptionally economically and eco-friendly, the company said.

“The new SZ product family, especially eco SZ3, revolutionizes our entire lead-free ecoline portfolio – especially in terms of machining performance, efficiency and sustainability. We look forward to accompanying our customers into a lead-free future with these environmentally friendly products,” said Anton Zierhut, president of Extruded Products of the Wieland Group. 

IBC Alloys to Close Division
IBC Advanced Alloys Corp. will focus on its profitable Copper Alloys division in Franklin, Ind., and cease production this summer at its Massachusetts beryllium-aluminum alloy plant because of insufficient long-term demand for cast beryllium-aluminum alloy products. 

The Copper Alloys division operates a vertically integrated copper alloy production facility in Indiana, which takes raw material through foundry, forge and rough and final machining.  Since navigating the market disruptions of the COVID pandemic, consolidating three copper alloy plants into one facility in 2022 while also completing construction of its modernized and expanded production facility in Franklin, the division has significantly grown revenue, generated more robust cash flow, improved its gross profit margins and operated profitably. 

The company’s decision to close its Engineered Materials division was driven primarily by insufficient long-term demand for cast beryllium-aluminum alloy products and the resulting continuing losses.  EMC’s net losses, which included a loss of $7.4 million in the 12 months ended June 30, and a loss of $5.2 million in the trailing 12 months ended Dec. 31, depleted available working capital for the Copper Alloys division at a time when demand for copper alloy products was growing.

“The IBC team worked very hard over a dozen years to expand markets for its innovative beryllium-aluminum cast alloy products,” said Mark A. Smith, chairman and CEO of IBC, “but sufficient steady, long-term market demand simply did not materialize at a level that allowed for consistently profitable operations.  By focusing on growing our Copper Alloys business at our integrated and highly efficient foundry in Indiana, we see significant opportunity to expand the business to a whole new level and seek consistent profitability.”

Prior to halting operations in Massachusetts, IBC will complete its existing production contracts for beryllium-aluminum alloy products, including components it manufactures for the F-35 aircraft and other defense systems.  Alternative production of these alloy parts for the F-35 and other defense systems is expected to be available after IBC closes its Massachusetts facility.

Revere Revs Up in North Carolina
Revere Copper held a grand opening for its new production facility in North Carolina. The facility, which opened a year earlier, recently launched its Silver Coating line. 

At the site, Revere will produce copper bar in straight lengths and coil form for the power distribution market using continuous rotary extrusion technology. 

The 90,000-square-foot facility is Revere’s first outside its New York home. The company chose Alamance County due to its proximity to both suppliers and customers. The existence of the growing electric vehicle market, which will consume a considerable amount more copper products than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, also played a role. 

Additionally, Revere executives cited the  business-friendly nature of the communities, including the nearby cities of Mebane and Graham. 
Revere has the ability to double the size of the location if additional growth demands it.  

At full capacity, Revere will be “able to effectively double our output of copper bar, and that’s really exciting for us. The data center market is driving demand for our copper bar and this market is expected to be strong for many years,” said Amy O’Shaughnessy, vice president of sales and marketing for Revere.

Wieland Group has introduced a new line of lead-free brass products. (Photo courtesy Wieland Group)

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