Europe’s biggest copper smelter, Aurubis, has reported operating earnings before taxes (EBT), or core profit, of €243m ($260.8m) for the first half of the fiscal year (FY) 2023/24, compared with €239m a year ago.

This comes despite a decrease in revenues, which fell from €8.78bn to €8.25bn, primarily driven by lower copper prices and a significant reduction in shapes sales.

The company’s resilience is partly due to higher treatment and refining charges, which benefitted from a slight increase in concentrate throughput at its primary sites.

Additionally, a substantial rise in the Aurubis copper premium and the sustained high demand for wire rod contributed positively to the financial outcome.

Reduction in energy costs, particularly for electricity and gas, also supported the company’s growth.

However, the financial performance was affected by lower sulphuric acid revenues and decreased income from refining charges for recycling materials processing.

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The company’s results were further impacted by increased legal and consulting expenses related to a metal scam involving a conspiracy between scrap material suppliers and Aurubis employees in the sampling unit, leading to discrepancies in the recorded metal levels in inventories.

Severance payments for departing executive board members and higher costs associated with launching strategic projects also hit the first-half results.

Net cash flow stood at €5m, a decline from €19m in the prior year, due to significant payments for inventories.

Despite these challenges, Aurubis projected operating EBT of €380–480m for FY23/24, expecting high demand for copper products and other metals produced by the company.

However, a temporarily strained supply situation for copper concentrates and recycling material is anticipated.

Aurubis CEO Roland Harings said: “Strategy implementation is the focus of the current fiscal year. Additional investments of some €500m were approved in the past six months.

“This includes new precious metal processing in Hamburg, projects to expand environmentally sound slag processing and the solar park in Pirdop, and the expansion of a facility to continue reducing diffuse emissions in Hamburg.

“On top of that, we broke ground for the tankhouse expansion in Bulgaria at the end of April 2024. It will enable us to produce 50% more copper cathodes at the site in the future in order to fulfil growing European demand for this metal so crucial to the energy transition.”