Overview on mining sites
Over the course of its long history, a number of Umicore’s predecessor companies were involved in mining zinc and other metals. In the mid-1990s, Umicore started a process of divesting all of its remaining mining rights as part of its strategic reorientation towards added-value materials and recycling.
Umicore’s predecessor companies operated within the boundaries of national mining legislation and in the context of the environmental standards valid at the time these mines were operational. The decommissioning of the mines and the restitution of mining concessions to the relevant state authorities has consistently been carried out in collaboration with the competent authorities and local stakeholders. This process takes into consideration the specific circumstances of each site. Wherever it is deemed necessary by the relevant authorities, remediation projects are developed in close consultation with other stakeholders in order to reduce any risks to an acceptable level as defined by the authorities.
Below is a short summary of Umicore’s main mining heritage:
Former mining sites in France
Umicore’s predecessor companies operated mines in France since the mid-1800s. The last remaining mining activities were terminated in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and extensive rehabilitation works were carried out at the former mining sites, all located in the south of France, during the 1990s. All former mining concessions in France have been returned to the state, the last being confirmed by ministerial decree in 2005.
Former mining sites in Belgium
The mining sites in Belgium laid the foundation of our oldest predecessor company, Vieille Montagne. The mining concession of the same name was granted by Napoleon in 1805, while over time five more concessions were added, all located in eastern Wallonia. The mining activities in Belgium ceased in the 1950s and extensive rehabilitation works were carried out in close consultation with the competent mining authorities at all sites. The six concessions are at various stages of being returned to the state.
Former mining sites in Germany
The first concessions to mine zinc and lead in Germany were acquired in the mid-1800s. Exploitation at most of the concessions ceased in the late 19th / early 20th century, with a handful of mines continuing activities into the middle of the 20th century. The last active mine was closed in 1978. A number of mining concessions located near the cities of Cologne and Coblenz remain in Umicore’s possession.
Extensive risk assessment has been carried out with the assistance of specialised consultants. After consultation with the mining authorities, work has been undertaken to further reduce any risks posed by these sites (e.g. from subsidence). Monitoring of the sites is performed on a continuous basis to ensure the safety of the sites.
Former mining sites in The Netherlands
In 1899, the Société des Charbonnages réunis Laura & Vereeniging was founded. The company conducted mining activities at the Laura and Julia mining concessions in south Limburg from 1905 until 1974. The mining rights have been returned to the Dutch state in the meantime.
Former mining sites in the US
In 1980, Union Minière, the predecessor of Umicore, acquired an abandoned silver-gold mine in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, USA. Subsequent exploration drillings were unsuccessful and it was decided to stop any attempt to further exploit the mine.
Remedial works started in the 1990’s, consisting of capping and landscaping waste rock piles and installing a water treatment plant to capture and treat the acid mine drainage that continuously flows out of the mine. The mining site is located in a natural recreation area. Umicore continues to manage the site in order to meet the stringent environmental requirements.