American Zinc Recycling (AZR), a provider of environmental services to the U.S. steel industry, announced the restart of production at its updated facility in Rutherford County, N.C. The facility is designed to produce special-high-grade (SHG) zinc using recycled steel-mill dust. It is expected to produce 155,000 tons of SHG zinc annually.

AZR re-engineered the Rutherford County plant, which had been idled since early 2016, with upgrades to its solvent-extraction and metals-refining technology. The company takes zinc-bearing steel-mill dust, a hazardous waste that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills, and recycles it using their waelz kiln technology into waelz oxide (WOX), a zinc-based feed that it uses to produce zinc metal at the Rutherford County plant. AZR will recycle more than 500,000 tons of dust across its four recycling facilities in 2020.

AZR’s Rutherford County plant will extend the recycling value chain by refining the WOX into SHG zinc, which is used in galvanizing steel for automobiles, various infrastructure applications and die-cast components for appliances. According to AZR, the Rutherford County facility is the only plant in the western world that produces zinc solely from recycled sources.