Nickelhütte Aue GmbH

Nickelhütte Aue GmbH

Nickelhütte Aue GmbH

NHA is speciallized in the recycling of waste materials containing non-ferrous metals. We are especially interested in Nickel, Copper, Cobalt, Vanadium, Molybdenum and precious metal containing spent catalysts from chemical and pharmaceutical industries but also from petrochemical industries and from hydrogenation processes of oils and fats. But we are also able to treat other kinds of residues like ashes, dusts, grindings, liquids, slurries and sludge’s as long as they contain one or a combination of the above named metals.

Company details

Rudolf-Breischeid-Straße , Aue , 08280 Germany
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Business Type:
Service provider
Industry Type:
Metal Recycling
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)


In our modern smelting works we produce non-ferrous metal concentrates out of electroplating slurries and residues. By following metallurgical processes, these concentrates are refined into non-ferrous metals and  Ni-, Cu-, Co-, V- chemicals. The cycle is closed by using these chemicals in the electroplating industry.

We recycle spent catalysts from petrochemical industries, chemical industries and from edible oil hydrogenation. With the production of non-ferrous metal concentrates and chemicals out of these spent catalysts, we can offer our customers an unique recycling loop as our chemicals are used as starting material for new catalysts.

For further application in surface technology, copper sulphate is produced out of copper chloride solution generated by electronical industries.

In 2001, Nickelhütte Aue GmbH started to treat precious metals containing waste. The processing takes place in an installation disposing of special requirements due to the special treatment on behalf of all well-known precious metals producers. In 2002, Nickelhütte Aue GmbH expanded its processing spectrum to extend the production by vanadium compounds from NiV-containing filter dusts and - catalysts. Synergy effects are used by the recycling of transformers. Transformer oil is used to substitute fuel oil in the smelting department. Non-ferrous metals are further processed in other facilities of our plant.

We offer our customers a full range of options for non-ferrous metals at our facilities: non-ferrous metal trade, transformer recycling and alloy smelting, all operating in a coordinated and synergic manner. According to DIN or customer demands we produce red brass, brass and bronze alloys.

The waste heat resulting from the pyrometallurgical processes is used to generate electricity and heat. We are able to satisfy our own energy needs and supply thermal energy to other companies situated in our home town.

As a major local employer we do not only care for the environment but we are also aware of our social responsibilities. We support boys and girls in doing sports activities (handball, football, taewondo, chess). We provide own leisure facilities to the public like a new cinema, an icehouse and bowling alley.


From Blue Dye Works to Nickelhütte

On 20th February 1635, Veit Hans Schnorr the Elder was accorded the Schönburg privilege 'to erect and build a dye mill, including works, at Pfannenstiel next to the Black Water'. Cobalt Oxide, the colour called 'Safflor' and the blue colour 'Smalte' were produced here. In the middle of the 19th Century, Kurt Alexander Winkler and Alexander Clemens Winkler founded the iron and steel works. With this, the systematic production of nickel began. In 1848 the very first supply of nickel cubes left the factory. Since that time the factory can look back on more than 150 years of uninterrupted nickel production.

The supplies of ore from the mines in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) were exhausted during the 19th century. In 1855 the Norwegian blue dye factory in Modum was bought and cobalt supplies were obtained from the Caucasus and from the Hungarian Dobschau region. In 1858 the railway connection between Zwickau and Schwarzenberg was opened providing convenient access to the Zwickau coal mining areas. A new Smalte factory was built in 1885 and the workforce increased to 80. At the beginning of the 20th century reprocessing of metallurgical intermediate products begun so that cobalt and nickel could be recovered. New processing plants were erected in order to meet the market demands not only for the existing products but also for other basic raw materials. In 1914 the factory was incorporated into the smelting works with its furnaces and kilns. In 1942 copper processing started with the production of herbicides (fungicide). After the Second World War the works fell under the strict jurisdiction of the Soviet military administration. Parts of the works were used as a processing factory. During the years 1958-1963 a program of reconstruction was carried out at the works so that it was capable of taking over production from the Oberschlema blue dye factory. This merger left Nickelhütte Aue as the only factory continuing the blue dye works in Saxony. In the following years waste materials were almost exclusively used as raw materials at the works. Modern techniques and technology have been adapted to the materials used.


A successful development begun when Nickelhütte was taken over by Siegfried Jacob Metallwerke GmbH & Co. KG on 1st January 1991. Thanks to the commitment and courage of Mr. Siegfried Jacob, the works have been transformed from a devastated factory with a worn out plant, into a progressive, innovative, environmentally conscious enterprise. With its new plant, Nickelhütte Aue GmbH is able to use processing methods which allow waste materials to be recycled in an environmentally-friendly way. Non-ferrous metals, especially nickel, cobalt and copper are Nickelhütte Aue's primary raw materials although some ferrous and non-metallic waste can be absorbed into their process cycles. Valuable materials go back into economic circulation as metals, concentrates or compounds. The remaining components are fed into the recycling process where they are combined in a type of glass silicate slag which is later on used in the building industry. Nickelhütte Aue GmbH is willing to face the demands of a closed-loop materials economy to ensure minimal impact on the natural environment and that valuable resources are not dumped or used as infill and packing. In line with our philosophy, we bridge the gap between manufacturers and waste producers in the circulation of materials. For its new installations Nickelhütte Aue GmbH hold the correct licences for the regulation and control of emission levels. The pyrometallurgical installations keep to the licence restrictions of 17.BlmSchV (Federal Immission Control Act of Germany). In 1996 the works installed a plant to process copper chloride corrosive solutions. In this plant corrosive salts and copper sulphate are produced out of used solutions from the circuit board industry. This process operates without producing any waste materials. During 1995-1998 the new smelting plant was been built. The waste gas cleaning treatment meets the requirements of 17. BlmSchV. The hydrometallurgy plant is currently being improved and refurbished to increase the production of nickel sulphate.

With the restart of producing cobalt compounds in 1999, Nickelhütte Aue GmbH tied in with its long tradition of cobalt processing. In 2001, Nickelhütte Aue GmbH started to treat precious metals containing waste. The processing takes place in an installation disposing of special requirements due to the special treatment on behalf of all well-known precious metals producers. In 2002, Nickelhütte Aue GmbH expanded its processing spectrum by vanadium compounds to extend its production. NiV-containing filter dusts and catalysts are treated in smelting kilns. Nickel and vanadium are led back into the economic cycle. All areas of business are regularly inspected by DEKRA Certification GmbH and audited as Specialist Waste Recycling Business in accordance with § 52 KrW-/AbfG (section 52 of the Economic Circulation and Refuse Disposal Laws). In 2001 Nickelhütte Aue GmbH gained ISO 9001:2000 status and in 2006 ISO 14001:2004 status.

Nickelhütte Aue GmbH has approximately 430 employees and apprentices. The company exports chemicals, metals, salts and concentrates to 45 countries. More than 100 Mio € have been invested since 1991 enabling the company to face the challenges of the 21st Century. As a major local employer Nickelhütte Aue GmbH does not only care for the environment but is also aware of its social responsibilities. The company converted workshops providing them to operators of cinema, gym and ice-skating hall. The company supports 150 boys and girls in doing sports activities in sport sections of Nickelhütte Aue GmbH. This has enabled young people from our region to be successful members of sport teams in regional and national leagues.