Umicore dates back as 200 years old. Umicore was formed by a number of mining and smelting companies coming together which gradually evolved into the materials technology and recycling company. In 1805 on 17th December Napoleon Bonaparte granted Jean Dony to take control of the Vieille- Montagne mine in Moresnet. Which today is the border between Belgium and Germany. In 1906 Union Miniere or known as Union Miniere du Haut Katanga (UMKH) at the time produced copper and other metals in Congo.
In 1968 the Zairian government nationalised the company’s assets, which UMHK then set out to develop new mining and refining activities, which eventually became a sub-holding of Societe Generale de Belgique.
From that year in 1989, the merger of Union Miniere with its subsidiaries (Metallurgie Hoboken- Overpelt, Vieille-Montagne and Mechim) transformed Union Miniere into an integrated industrial group.
Throughout the late 1990s, Union Miniere increasingly positioned itself as a speciality materials company. They had moved their focus to precious metals, high-margin zinc products and advanced materials after having already sold its remaining mining and other non-strategic assets.
In 2001 the Group changed its name to Umicore this was to symbolise that they were moving trends from mining and the production of commodities and base metals. The first two letters of the name are the initials of Union Miniere referring o the Group’s historical roots.
The company added a new dimension when then acquiesced PMG in 2003 which included a major presence in the automotive catalyst sector. PMG was, in fact, the former precious metals unit of the German Degussa group. The company in 1887 had been founding shareholder of Umicore’s Hoboken Plant.
After Umicore added a new dimension in 2003, Umicore then decided in 2005 to separate its copper business and call the company Cumerio from them after once again two years later combined its zinc refining & alloys business with that of Ziinifex by uniting them into a new company and started to trade under the name of Nyrstar.
With the success of Umicore today they are a global materials technology and recycling group, with more than 10,000 employees and a turnover of € 11.1 billion in 2016