American Zinc Recycling, together with the previous owners of our assets, has been operating in the zinc industry for more than 170 years.

Summary of Company History

  • 1848 – 1952:  Sussex Zinc & Copper
  • 1852 – 1966:  New Jersey Zinc Company
  • 1966 – 1981:  Gulf and Western Industries
  • 1981 – 2002:  Horsehead Industries Inc.
    • 1986: Horsehead Resource Development (HRD) formed as a subsidiary of Horsehead Industries
    • 1987: Zinc Corporation of America forms as a subsidiary of Horsehead Industries
  • 2003 – 2016:  Horsehead Corporation
  • 2017 – Today:  American Zinc Recycling


  • 1848: Sussex Zinc & Copper is formed.
  • 1852: Sussex Zinc changes its name to New Jersey Zinc, which developed the first commercially viable way to smelt ore to produce zinc oxide and which in 1865 began production of zinc metal slabs. The company impressed the symbol of a horse’s head, prominent on the seal of the State of New Jersey, onto the slabs of zinc it produced.
  • 1864: Joseph Lead Company began mining in Bonne Terre, Missouri.
  • 1897: Franklin-Sterling zinc operations (Sussex County, NJ) are consolidated into New Jersey Zinc after which the Company acquired the property in the Lehigh Valley to build a zinc smelting plant. The resulting plant and town would become Palmerton, PA.  Palmerton West Plant construction begins.
  • 1899: The Palmerton West Plant ships its first product, zinc oxide.


  • 1904: Construction on Palmerton East Plant begins.
  • 1929: The first kiln that produced zinc oxide using the waelzing process was installed in the East Plant at Palmerton and zinc metal was produced in the West Plant from a vertical retort furnace.
  • 1930: A smelter was built by St. Joe Lead Co. in Josephtown, PA (near Monaca, PA), which initially produced zinc oxides from zinc concentrates obtained mainly from mines in Balmat, New York.  Joe Lead later becomes the St. Joe Minerals Corp. (1971).
  • 1936: Joe begins producing prime western grade zinc metal at the Monaca smelter.
  • 1958: Joe starts up its coal-fired power plant to supply the Monaca smelter.
  • 1965: Gulf & Western Industries acquires New Jersey Zinc.
  • 1966: Joe begins producing French-process zinc oxide using New Jersey-designed distillation columns at the Monaca plant.
  • 1979: The Palmerton Plant begins processing dust (“EAF dust”), which is generated as a by-product from electric arc furnaces, which recycle scrap metal into steel.
  • 1981: A management-led group buys New Jersey Zinc to form Horsehead Industries.
  • 1986:
    • EAF dust is designated as a listed hazardous waste by the EPA.
    • Horsehead Industries creates Horsehead Resource Development (HRD). HRD’s kilns process the EAF dust generated by electric arc steel companies into zinc and other usable metals, allowing steel companies to recycle the EAF dust instead of putting it in landfills. HRD would become a recycler of greater quantities of hazardous industrial waste than any other company in the United States.
    • HRD purchases the Calumet Plant, in Chicago, IL. The plant, originally built in 1940, was calcining pet coke using a kiln.
  • 1987:
    • Horsehead Industries acquires the zinc business of Fluor Corporation, which had been part of the St. Joe Minerals Corp. acquired by Fluor in 1981. Horsehead Industries combines the assets with New Jersey Zinc to form Zinc Corporation of America (ZCA), becoming the country’s largest producer of zinc as well as the world leader in the production of zinc from recycled sources.
    • Zinc Corporation of America acquires the Balmat mine rights from St. Joe Minerals, creating ZCA Mines, Inc.
    • Horsehead Industries acquires rights to the “flame reactor” technology developed by St. Joe Minerals.
  • 1988: HRD Calumet Plant converted kiln to process EAF Dust.
  • 1989: Horsehead Industries purchases the Rockwood, TN facility. It produced silicon carbide until 1990 and after modification produced waelz oxide from EAF dust.
  • 1990: A new plant, named Equidae, was built on a site in Bartlesville, OK to process lead concentrate from HRD’s Palmerton Plant.
  • 1992-96: HRD went public as an environmental services company.
  • 1992: HRD Calumet Plant builds a 2nd kiln to expand capacity.
  • 1993: A flame reactor facility (30,000 tpy) was built and started up in Beaumont, TX , to process EAF dust into crude zinc oxide (CZO).
Our East Palmerton Plant began construction just 6 years before this photo was taken!
Calumet in the 1900s!
Our first Waelz Kiln was installed in 1929!
Palmerton Plant


  • 2001: The Monaca smelter begins processing into zinc metal and zinc oxide only recycled materials – waelz oxide, calcined Waelz oxide and zinc secondaries.
  • 2002: Horsehead Industries files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • 2003:
    • OntZinc acquires the Balmat mining operations from ZCA Mines, Inc.
    • Sun Capital Partners, Inc. forms a company that purchases through the bankruptcy proceedings a portion of the assets of Horsehead Industries, including portions of the East Plant at Palmerton, and the new company is named Horsehead Corporation.
  • 2007: Horsehead Holding Corporation, the parent company of Horsehead Corporation, becomes a public company.
  • 2008:
    • Construction begins on the Barnwell, SC recycling facility, the company’s first greenfield construction project, to process 160,000 tpy of EAF dust.
    • Rockwood recycling facility adds a 2nd kiln increasing capacity by 80,000 tons.
  • 2009: Horsehead Corporation announces the acquisition of INMETCO, located in Ellwood, City, PA.
  • 2010: Barnwell recycling facility commissioned.
  • 2011: Horsehead Corporation announces plans to build a state-of-the-art zinc production facility in Rutherford County, NC using novel solvent extraction and electrowinning technologies.
  • 2012: Horsehead Corporation acquires Zochem in Brampton, Ontario, CN, a producer of zinc oxide.
  • 2014: The Rutherford County, NC Plant begins zinc production.
  • 2016:  Horsehead Holding Corp. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, then is converted into a limited liability company, with the new owners being private equity investors.
  • 2017: 
    • Horsehead Holding LLC is renamed American Zinc Recycling LLC and Horsehead Corporation is renamed American Zinc Recycling Corp.
    • AZR sells Zochem to Zinc Oxide LLC
  • 2019: Fire in cell house at American Zinc Products in Rutherford County, NC delays zinc production.
  • 2020: American Zinc Products, Rutherford County restarts production.
Rockwood, Tennessee Plant
Barnwell, South Carolina plant commissioned in 2010!
INMETCO is acquired in 2009!
Rutherford County, North Carolina facility begins zinc production in May of 2014! This facility is the only zinc refinery to produce zinc from solely recycled materials.