Umicore Group

Umicore Group

Umicore Group

Today Umicore is a global materials technology and recycling group, with about 10,000 employees and a turnover of € 10.4 billion in 2015. Umicore generates the majority of its revenues and dedicates most of its R&D efforts to clean technologies, such as emission control catalysts, materials for rechargeable batteries and recycling. Umicore’s overriding goal of sustainable value creation is based on an ambition to develop, produce and recycle materials in a way that fulfils its mission: materials for a better life.

Company details

Broekstraat 31 rue du Marais , Brussels , B-1000 Belgium


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Business Type:
Industry Type:
Waste and Recycling
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
Over 1000
more than 1,000,000,000 €


Our main contribution to a more sustainable world centres around the products and services we provide to our worldwide customer base. The areas where we can make the most telling contributions are:

  • Resource scarcity: in today's world, metals are in greater demand but are becoming ever scarcer. Umicore's recycling capabilities recover more than 20 elements including precious and other metals.
  • Clean air: worldwide efforts towards stricter emissions standards provide global growth opportunities in automotive catalysts, for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Vehicle electrification: the growing market for lithium ion batteries is driving demand for our rechargeable battery cathode materials.


Umicore has outstanding growth prospects in those products and services that are based on the drive towards cleaner mobility (automotive catalysts and rechargeable battery materials) as well as in those areas that tackle resource efficiency through our closed loop business model that ensures the recycling of precious and specialty metals. Based to a large extent on the growth potential in these areas, Umicore has the ambition to double its profits by 2020 from the levels of 2014. This should also result in a more balanced portfolio with the three business groups gradually making up more equal contributions to earning. The aim is to achieve a return on capital of above 15% over this period.

Value chain and society

Horizon 2020 adopts a conscious view of Umicore’s presence in the overall value chain. We strive to leverage our sustainability expertise both up the value chain (supply) as well as down the value chain (products and services). From a supply perspective Umicore seeks to generate a greater competitive edge by promoting its ethical sourcing approach and closed loop business offering. In terms of sustainable products and services Umicore aims to generate further competitive benefits through the development of products that have specific sustainability benefits such as the reduction of harmful substances or the enhancement of material or energy efficiency.


We aim to drive an even more efficient use of metals, energy and other substances in our operations. To this end we will pursue selective eco-efficiency initiatives in business units and sites where these can generate compelling value for example through reduced costs or a strengthened license to operate.

Great place to work

A great place to work is a safe, healthy and engaging workplace. Umicore seeks to be a workplace with zero lost time accidents. In terms of occupational health we aim to further reduce employee exposure to specific metals. On people engagement, we also want to make progress on specific strategically important themes of talent management, diversity and employability.

Umicore’s Business ApproachFocus on applications

Umicore focuses on providing products (materials, compounds and catalysts) and services based on precious and specialty metals. The development of new products and new services is dictated by the requirements of Umicore’s customers and its customers’ customers. Through our focus on applications and the offer of flexible solutions, we strive for market leadership in all selected areas where we are present.

Adding value

Umicore is active over a large segment of the value chain, looking for ways to add value beyond the production of refined metals. We seek to develop and produce products and services that have a specific added value for our customers. This frequently involves close joint development efforts.

Closing the loop

Recycling is a core part of our business. The ability to close the materials loop represents a vital service to many customers and offers us a key competitive advantage. Closing the loop also offers direct economic and environmental benefits and is a key element in the long-term success of the business.

Excellence in innovation, technology and operations

In the fast-moving arena of materials technology the importance of innovation is paramount. We invest in and encourage product and process innovation throughout the business.  Continuous improvement of both the cost base and product quality in our operations also remains vital in order to prosper as a materials business.

Being the best employer and neighbour

As a dynamic, responsible and technology-oriented business our success depends on being able to attract and retain the right people. Our licence to operate is also derived from transparent communication with our stakeholders especially people living close to our operations. We aim to be the best possible employer and neighbour.

Environmental stewardship

We carefully manage our environmental footprint. This involves seeking constant improvement in our environmental performance as well as addressing any historical issues connected with our past operations.

Value creation

Umicore seeks to generate economic value through its existing businesses and any acquisitions or organic growth initiatives that it undertakes. This entails generating a return on capital employed (recurring pre-tax operating profit / average capital employed for the period) in excess of our overall Group pre-tax cost of capital. This cost of capital can vary over time in function of our risk profile and the state of the world’s debt and equity markets. Umicore aims to create value for shareholders in the medium term. This is achieved in the first instance through achieving solid operational performance. We seek to grow our existing businesses and also to enter markets which have attractive growth potential and to develop leadership positions within these markets. From a financial perspective we aim to safeguard our business through sound financial management and by maintaining a strong balance sheet. We have no fixed target regarding debt levels but we aim to maintain an investment grade status at all times.

Key Figures at 31.12.2013

  • Turnover : 9,819
  • Recurring EBITDA : 463
  • Recurring EBIT : 304
  • EBIT margin : 12.2%
  • Capex : 280
  • Net recurring profit : 218
  • ROCE : 13.6%
  • Workforce : 14,056

Customers are at the Core of Our Mission

We develop, produce, apply, market and recycle metal-related materials and we contribute to material based solutions. We combine our competences in metallurgy, chemistry and materials science with a thorough understanding of our customers’ needs, applications and systems.

We focus on those business areas where we can attain leadership positions which are recognized by our customers and which allow us to create value.

We want to be the preferred partner of our customers.

We are committed to the growth of our business through the competence of our people, excellence in operations and technological innovation.


We hold the values of openness, innovation, respect, teamwork and commitment to be crucial to our success. We promote these values and ensure that deficiencies in living up to these values are addressed in an appropriate way.

  • Openness:
    We communicate openly, accurately and with enthusiasm. We provide reliable and relevant information on our activities in a timely, regular manner within the limits of commercial confidentiality. We consider interaction important and therefore have a positive attitude towards constructive dialogues with all of our stakeholders.
  • Innovation:
    We believe in continuously searching for better ways of doing things. We believe that innovation is the ultimate driver for long-term profitability and growth. We are open to new ideas and ready to take considered risks.
  • Respect:
    We show respect for eachother and for cultures, customs and values in our dealings with employees and others who have a stake in our activities. We do not compromise on occupational health and safety and act in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • Teamwork:
    We believe in teamwork to realize our goals. We encourage a flow of information across divisional, functional and geographical borders to make full use of knowledge and experience available to us. By working together towards shared goals, we want our people to derive pride, satisfaction and fun from their work.
  • Commitment:
    We believe in keeping our promises, adhering to high performance standards and continuously searching for the best solutions we can possibly deliver.


As part of our commitment to sustainability, we take into account the environmental impact of our operations. In this respect :

  • We seek continual improvement of our environmental performance.
  • We implement risk management strategies based on valid data and sound science.
  • We actively participate in the management and remediation of risks that are the result of historical operations.
  • We facilitate and encourage responsible design, use, re-use, recycling and disposal of our products.

The historical roots of Umicore go back more than 200 years and the Group in its current form is the result of the coming together of a number of mining and smelting companies which gradually evolved into the materials technology and recycling company Umicore is today.

On 17 December 1805, Jean Dony obtained the concession of the Vieille-Montagne mine in Moresnet, on what is today the border between Belgium and Germany. This date can thus be said to mark the beginning of what became in 1837 the “Société Anonyme des Mines et Fonderies de Zinc de la Vieille-Montagne”, the oldest of Umicore’s predecessor companies. 

The history of another main strand of Umicore, Union Minière, commenced in 1906. At that time it was known as Union Minière du Haut Katanga (UMHK) and its activity consisted of exploiting the rich mineral resources of Belgium's colony of the Congo: copper, cobalt, tin and precious metals.

After the company's assets were nationalized by the Zairian government in 1968, Union Minière set out to develop new mining and refining activities. It eventually became a sub-holding of Société Générale de Belgique.

The merger in 1989 of Union Minière with its subsidiaries, Metallurgie Hoboken-Overpelt (copper, lead, cobalt, germanium, precious metals and special metals), Vieille-Montagne (zinc) and Mechim (engineering) transformed Union Minière into an integrated industrial group.

Union Minière increasingly positioned itself as a specialty materials company in the late 1990s, focusing on precious metals, high-margin zinc products and advanced materials based mainly on cobalt and germanium. It had earlier sold its remaining mining and other non-strategic assets. To symbolise this trend of moving away from mining and the production of commodities and base metals, the Group changed its name to Umicore in 2001.

The acquisition of PMG in 2003 added a new dimension to the company, including a major presence into the automotive catalyst sector. PMG was in fact the former precious metals unit of the German Degussa group – the very company which, in 1887, had been a founding shareholder of Umicore’s Hoboken plant. In 2005 Umicore spun off its copper business into a separate company, Cumerio, which was separately listed on the Brussels stock exchange. In 2007 Umicore combined its zinc refining & alloys business with that of Zinifex. The new company, Nyrstar, was also listed in Brussels. During the same year Umicore acquired the automotive catalyst division of Delphi, which reinforced Umicore's global leadership positions in the automotive catalyst business

Today Umicore is aglobal materials technology and recycling group, with more than 14,000 employees and a turnover of €12.5 billion.