The Sandvik Sustainability Award in Memory of Sigrid Göransson 2022 was awarded to the team behind a unique circular mining bits solution. Not only does the innovation turn waste into new products, it also creates job opportunities and reduces supply chain risks.
“The recognition for the team to be awarded the Sigrid Göransson award makes us proud and happy. A safe and efficient extraction process increases our ability to take responsibility for our used products, support our customers’ sustainability work and create local job opportunities,” says Petter Nilsen, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.
Modern drill bits are produced of steel with tungsten inserts. After the drill bit is worn out, there is still lots of tungsten left. The material is difficult to recycle, and the drills often become waste to the customer.
The winning team has developed a process to separate tungsten inserts from the steel body. The tungsten inserts are transported to the recycling facility at Wolfram Bergbau und Hütten AG, where they are processed with a method developed by Wolfram. The recycled material is as good as new and can be used for a full range of products.
“The need for circularity was clear, then success has been realized through developing integrated innovation methods with an entrepreneurial team spirit,” says Gary Tully, supply chain director at Wolfram.
The advantages are numerous: the customers get paid for their used drills and the need for virgin material is reduced. The tungsten inserts weigh a fraction of the entire drill which reduces transport and CO2 emissions. The separation process can be made locally, creating job opportunities. The circular material flow is positive for the environment and local communities and reduces the business risk of outside dependencies in the supply chain.