Sandvik is introducing what it believes is an industry-first ‘opt-out’ recycling program for customers of carbide drill bits, aiming to transform the use of a material expected to run out within 40 to 100 years if consumption rates continue unabated.
Tungsten, a key component in cemented carbide, is a scarce and finite material. Making tools from recycled carbide requires 70% less energy and emits 64% less CO2. It also reduces nitrous oxide emissions, according to the OEM.
Sandvik aims to collect 90% of its own used bits by 2025, while other manufacturers’ used bits can also be recycled within the scope of the new initiative.
Jens Holmberg, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Rock Tools division, said: “Our breakthrough opt-out program supports our customers’ drive to mine more sustainably and demonstrates our commitment to delivering on Sandvik’s ambitious sustainability goals to halve CO2 emissions by 2030. We are determined to lead the industry into a new era, fully committed to embed circularity across an essential component of mining.”
The recycling of drill bits is an important part of making the mining industry more sustainable, yet, historically, carbide recycling has faced several challenges. Collection of used products has been limited while carbide extraction has been cumbersome, inefficient and involved hazardous ways of working, Sandvik says. The zinc recycling process has not returned the same quality of carbide performance, either.
Sandvik says it is now able to help customers overcome these challenges through its new opt-out program.
“Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Holmberg said. “We need to transition our industry at an unprecedented speed. Our recycling program is one of many new initiatives you will see from Sandvik’s Rock Tools division moving forward. We are an industry leading supplier in mining globally, and we need to do everything in our power to support and push the industry forward.”
To further underline the importance of cemented carbide recycling, Sandvik is offering its customers an industry-first extraction support. This will make it easier, faster and safer to recycle dull drill bits with a new patent-pending method that will reduce emissions from transportation by 93%, it says.