By Christopher Williams

In May, American Iron & Metal (AIM)’s recycling facility in West Saint John loaded 54,000 tonnes of metal over 10 days, setting a new record. “This one shipment surpasses our previous total annual metals export tonnage,” compares an elated Andrew Dixon, Senior Vice-President, Planning & Development, Saint John Port Authority (SJPA).

With a new shredder up and operating, AIM is now shredding material at the port rather than handling larger metals. “This is the first movement of shredded material to leave our port and this large shipment size is not going to be unusual,” Dixon foresees. “The operation used to have to load in two different ports to fill a ship because the product was not shredded here. The export of heavier metals was only in the range of 50,000 tonnes per year,” Dixon recalls.

The 188-metre M/V Frederike Selmer, chartered by Montship, was easily loaded with metals for foreign ports at Pier 10 where AIM now operates a 9.3-hectare facility. The Montreal-based company specializes in the recovery and recycling of scrap metal into valuable, reusable raw materials and has a strong presence in both domestic and international markets. Last year, AIM and Saint John Port Authority signed a 40-year agreement to expand operations where the business had been growing for a decade.

“It is exciting to have an expanded industrial presence in our Port through American Iron and Metal,” remarked Jim Quinn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Saint John Port Autority. “The $30-million investment over the last year has created job opportunities and will increase Port business and traffic providing an important revenue stream for the Port Authority and many of its stakeholders.”

The expansion adds “a minimum of 23 direct jobs and 20 spin-off jobs that translate to over $1.9 million in annual salaries and wages,” estimates Herbert Black, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM. The expanded AIM facility can process 40 to 60 vehicles per hour, or approximately 500 vehicles per day.

American Iron & Metal had been processing mainly ferrous metals like scrap iron and steel as well as non-ferrous metals, such as copper, aluminum, stainless steel and many other alloys. Now, AIM’s new $35-million Wendt 5,000 horsepower shredder can accept metals like car parts by rail from New Brunswick and sometimes Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Maine. The shredding machine processes steel products into fist sized pieces and a Wendt Z-box Materials Classifier recovers steel from the nonferrous materials and non-metallic material known as Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR) using a combination of air, a cyclone separator and magnetic separation.

NB Southern Railway moves “fluff” to Montreal

The ASR byproduct known as “fluff”, which consists of plastics and foam, is loaded directly onto NB Southern Railway cars. “This expansion provides an opportunity to our rail partners through the movement of the byproduct to Montreal for further processing, adds Dixon. “The rail cars leave the port on a daily basis with fluff destined for final processing at AIM’s state-of-the-art 300,000 square-foot facility in Montreal where they take all the precious metals and impurities out of the material,” he explains.

AIM is a responsible corporate citizen with an enviable record of environmental stewardship. Scrap metal actually contributes up to 50 per cent of the total volume of metal used on a daily basis worldwide, thus reducing the need to obtain new metals from mines. Herbert Black confirms that his Saint John facility continues to follow a strict Shredder Residue Sampling Protocol and will monitor all environmental activity. “AIM has invested heavily in high-performance equipment to ensure that the treatment of materials is ecologically safe,” ensures Black. “And no less importance is placed on preserving the health and safety of our workers.”

Peter Black established AIM’s initial operations in 1936, and his sons, Herbert and Ronald Black, now proudly lead the organization and have transformed it into one of North America’s largest metal processors and wholesalers. The Quebec scrap metal market was dominated by AIM and its main competitor, SNF Inc., until AIM acquired SNF in early 2008. As a result of the transaction, the two largest Quebec-based metal recyclers are now operated by the Black family and the combined operation ranks first in the industry on a national level. In Saint John, Jacques Thibault has managed operations for both SNF and AIM for more than a decade. Stevedoring for the AIM facility is provided by Empire Stevedoring.