Nanjing, eastern China, September 2018. The opening ceremony has just concluded. Festive red and gold still adorn the celebration grandstand. Linda Hu, commercial head for Heraeus Precious Metals China, stands next to a young, newly planted tree. “This factory is for our Chinese customers,” she explains. “Now we can offer solutions across the entire precious metals cycle—from recycling through processing to trading. In this way, we are promoting our customers’ growth.” The tree symbolizes this growth, emphasizing that it is green and sustainable.
The new Heraeus plant is part of the Nanjing Jiangbei New Material Science and Technology Park. Some of the world’s largest chemical and technology groups are represented here—and the industrial park is steadily growing. The companies are attracted by China’s thriving economy. For Heraeus as well, the new site is an investment in the future, because China ranks among the world’s largest consumers of platinum group metals. Key industry sectors, such as electronics, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, are demonstrating a significant and growing need for platinum group metals. In addition, China is positioning itself as a trailblazer in green growth. The government is promoting development of sustainable technologies and is banking on batteries and fuel cells for alternative drive systems. In addition, Beijing is currently adopting emission standards that are among the strictest in the world. This green strategy is increasing the demand for precious metals across all sectors of the economy. Precious metals are used in industrial exhaust catalysts and for diesel and gasoline engines, and they are basic elements of hydrogen technology.
Since China has little natural sources of platinum group metals itself, it must rely on imports and recycling. The recovery and recycling of precious metals, in particular, reduces imports from other countries over the long term, thereby making China’s economy less dependent on producing countries. “One key reason for our success is to create value on site”, says Jan Rinnert, Chairman of the Heraeus Holding Board of Management. “This is no different in China where we started our business about 45 years ago. Instead of exporting to China, nearly 85% of the value we create in China is developed and manufactured in the country.”