October 2020 – Aurubis shifts freight from road to rail in Bulgaria

Aurubis Bulgaria AD, founded in 1958, produces copper cathodes – the basic product of copper production and the starting material for further processing into high-grade copper products. Aurubis supplies most of its production in Pirdop (Western Bulgaria) to Turkey.

Until 2018, the transport to Turkey was carried out with up to 40 trucks per week. At the beginning of 2019 Aurubis switched to intermodal transport: At the plant, the cargo is loaded onto electric locomotives on its own railroad tracks. The trains transport the cathodes to Cherkezkoy, Turkey. There, they are unloaded so that trucks can cover the last part of the journey. Two electric locomotives a week can transport the same amount of cargo as 40 diesel trucks. Thus, this simple change represents an innovative and energy-saving change.

Two trains replace 40 trucks & are more economic, safer and faster 
Due to the change, the expedition planning as well as the loading and unloading activities had to be restructured. But the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. On the one hand, the time required for transportation has decreased significantly. Instead of 40 trucks, only two trains have to be loaded and checked. On the other hand, the planning reliability has increased since the transport no longer depends on the changing traffic situation on motorways. There are additional economic advantages of the project that further contribute to increasing the company’s competitiveness: Lower transport costs without additional investment, safer transport as well as lower consumables and maintenance costs.

Electric locomotives reduce emissions – less noise, dust, NOx und CO2
In addition, the new intermodal transport with energy-efficient locomotives represents an important contribution to environmental protection: dust emissions have decreased by approx. 89.47% and NOx emissions by approx. 92.32%. There is less noise on the company premises and green spaces now replace the parking spaces previously required for trucks. In addition, the locomotives are 98% recyclable. Further advantages include the relief of the road network and the associated avoidance of traffic accidents. Furthermore, there is no waiting at the border and the copper cathodes reach end customers faster.

The Energy Scout project from Aurubis Bulgaria AD shows that intermodal transport is a sustainable, practical and efficient solution. The team itself consisted of young employees from the departments of logistics, human resources, research and development, maintenance and sulfuric acid production.


  • Industry sector: Metal industry
  • Energy Source: Diesel
  • Fuel saving potential: 273,645 l/a diesel
  • CO2 saving potential: 236.5 t/a
Energy Scout team from Aurubis: (from left to right) Veselin Valkov, Irina Valtcheva, Georgi Minov, Yanka Zaharieva-Koleva, Radoslava Nikolova, Hristo Semerdjiev, Yanko Bonev (©Aurubis Bulgaria AD)
Presentation of the project at the Energy Scout Award Ceremony: Irina Valcheva, Yanka Zaharieva-Koleva (©AHK Bulgaria)
The Aurubis team with Carmen Struck from the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (far right) at the award ceremony (©AHK Bulgaria)