Heraeus Refinery


Heraeus is a global precious metals and technology group, headquartered in Hanau, Germany, with operations in multiple countries around the world. Hanau is located approximately 25 kms east of Frankfurt. The group is privately held by the Heraeus family, and employs approximately 12,500 employees. One of the Heraeus group’s core activities is the processing and trading of industrial precious metals including gold and silver. These activities are centralised within the group’s Heraeus Metal Management business unit. However, the overall Heraeus group is active in many fields including the materials sciences, medical, quartz glass smelting, sensors, and speciality light sources fields, and its customer base spans many industries including electronics, telecommunications, energy, transport, chemical as well as metals.

With a significant refining capacity for precious metals including a gold refining capacity in the range of 400 – 500 tonnes per annum, Heraeus produces a wide range of precious metals bars for the investment gold and silver market which are highly regarded worldwide. The Heraeus precious metals trading desks, of which there are four located around the world, are a very significant contributor to the group’s overall annual revenues. Heraeus is therefore an integral part of the German gold market. It is also involved directly in the Swiss gold market through its partial ownership of major Swiss precious metals refinery Argor-Heraeus. The Austrian Mint and Commerzbank are other shareholders in Argor-Heraeus.


  • German headquartered Heraeus is the largest precious metals refiner and processor in the world

  • Although the Heraeus group of companies involves many industrial businesses, it is best known as a precious metals group, and its precious metals processing and trading accounts for the lions share of group revenues

  • Heraeus produces a wide selection of gold and silver bars ranging from large wholesale (good delivery) bars right through to smaller cast and minted gold and silver bars

  • Heraeus has a significant shareholding in Swiss gold and silver refinery Argor-Heraeus, and Argor-Heraeus actually produces some of the Heraeus branded bar range

  • As one of the top precious metals refineries in the world, Heraeus is a member of the London Bullion Market Association’s good delivery referee panel which supervises refining standards in the global bullion market. Heraeus is a key member of both the LBMA and the London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM).

History of the Heraeus group

The Heraeus group of companies traces its origins in Hanau back to 1851 when Wilhelm Carl Heraeus, the son of a pharmacist, began developing new applications for platinum refining. Ultimately, the Heraeus family connections to Hanau go back to the 17th century, and in fact the Heraeus motif of the hand with roses which appears on each of its precious metals bars, is part of the Heraeus family crest that was designed by Isaac Heraeus (1636 -1676), an apothecary, who settled in Hanau.

By 1900, Heraeus had 40 employees and had grown on the back of innovating in the application of precious metals to industrial uses. By 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, the group employed 1000 people in Germany. Starting in the late 1950s, Heraeus began its international expansion, initially into France and Italy via sales offices, and later through foreign subsidiaries and foreign production facilities worldwide. By 1979, the group’s foreign revenues exceeded its domestic (German) revenues.

In 1985, the Heraeus family set up Heraeus Holding GmbH as the holding vehicle through which to manage the entire group. At that time the group consisted of five broad divisions, namely W. C. Heraeus (precious metals), Heraeus Electro-Nite (sensors), Heraeus Quarzglas (quartz glass), Heraeus Noblelight (specialty light sources), and Heraeus Kulzer (dental and medical products).

In 2001, Heraeus celebrated its 150th anniversary. During the 2009-2011 period, the W. C. Heraeus business group was split into two separate businesses, namely Heraeus Precious Metals, and Heraeus Materials Technology. In 2013, the dental products business that had been part of Heraeus Kulzer was sold[1]. Heraeus Precious Metals and Heraeus Materials Technology were further reorganized in 2015 (see below), out of which the current precious metals business unit, Heraeus Metal Management, arose.

Organizational Structure

Heraeus Holding is a privately held family controlled group of companies, and one of Germany’s largest privately held companies. It is also the largest precious metals refiner and processor in the world.

In 2015, the Heraeus Precious Metals and Heraeus Materials Technology businesses were re-organized into 7 global business units, namely Heraeus Metal Management, Heraeus Photovoltaics, Heraeus Performance Products, Heraeus Electronics, Heraeus Chemicals, Heraeus Medical Components, and a new division called Heraeus New Businesses. The 4 existing business groups of Heraeus Medical, Heraeus Electro-Nite, Heraeus Quarzglas and Heraeus Noblelight were maintained, bringing the total number of global business units to 11[2].

Each of these 11 global business units is headed by a president. Heraeus Holding is run by a board of management consisting of the group chief executive, chief operations officer, chief technology officer, and chief commercial officer. There is also a group executive committee comprising the business unit presidents, the board of management members and other key executives. Finally, Heraeus Holding is overseen by a supervisory board consisting of a chairman, vice-chairman and 10 other supervisory board members[3].

Heraeus Holdings sits above all of these companies as the central strategic management unit of the group. There are over 100 Heraeus companies in the entire group, which in total employs 12,500 people.

Group Financial Highlights – Precious metals dominance

Heraeus group revenue comprises two main components, namely product revenue from all groups, and a distinct revenue stream from precious metals trading. In 2014, the group generated total revenue of EUR 15.59 billion, comprises precious metals trading revenue of EUR 12.23 billion, and product revenue of EUR 3.36 billion[4]. Trading revenue, at 78.4% of total revenue, is therefore a massive contributor to the group’s total turnover. Within product revenue, precious metals is also one of the largest revenue components, contributing EUR 1.19 billion in 2014. Therefore, precious metals products and trading accounted for 86% of revenue in 2014. This revenue mix highlights why Heraeus is viewed primarily as a precious metals group even though it is involved in many other industrial and applied science areas. Heraeus generates its precious metal trading revenue by transacting with customers in the international precious metals markets, on securities exchanges and also on an over-the-counter basis. On a geographical basis, over 50% of Heraeus’ product revenue was derived from Asia in 2014, which highlights the importance of the Asian markets to the group’s fortunes.

Heraeus Metal Management

With the formation of Heraeus Metal Management[5][6] in 2015,  all precious metals services and activities of the group have now been brought back into one business unit. Metal Management covers the group’s precious metals refining, recycling[7] and trading[8] activities, and the business unit employees 750 people worldwide.

Heraeus’s products and service offering to the global precious metals industry consists of:

  • Production of physical precious metals bars for investment and industrial use
  • Provision of weight accounts to business customers for holding metal balances, which can then be used to execute metal transfers between Heraeus locations and alos facilitate metal transfers to other industry participants
  • A trading team which provides hedging and financing services, leasing, swaps, pricing services including trading strategies and derivatives

The Heraeus precious metals trading team consists of 4 trading desks in Hanau (Germany), New York City, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The trading team is involved in lots of aspects of the physical business on behalf of Heraeus’ industrial, recycling and investment customers, and is best viewed as being at the core of both the processing and trading activities. Heraeus trades gold, silver, platinum, palladium, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium, osmium, and rhenium (a semi-precious metal).

Heraeus sources precious metals for processing in its refineries from mines and via recycling, including from catalyst recycling for platinum group metals. The group’s metals recycling facilities are located in Hanau in Germany,  Port Elizabeth in South Africa, Taicang in China, Udaipur in India, Santa Fe Springs in California, and Wartburg in Tennessee in the US.

Heraeus Physical Precious Metals

The physical precious metals product range offered by Heraeus[Heraeus physical precious metals [9] is extensive. In gold and silver, Heraeus produces large Good Delivery Bars for the wholesale market, smaller investment bars for the investment sector, and gold and silver grain for industry and the jewellery sector. In platinum and palladium, Heraeus produces good delivery bars, investment bars, and sponge (used in industry). In other platinum group metals, namely rhodium, ruthenium, and iridium, Heraeus produces sponge & powder.

Heraeus’ gold refining and gold bar production are carried out in Hanau (Germany), Hong Kong, Newark, (US), and also in Switzerland through the giant Argor-Heraeus precious metals refinery in which Heraeus has a shareholding. The Heraeus refineries in Hanau and Hong Kong are on the current Good Delivery List[10] for gold maintained by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). This is a list which accredits the quality and production standards of large gold bars traded on the wholesale market. Likewise, Argor-Heraeus is on this list too. Heraeus Germany is also an Associate of the LBMA.

Similarly, Heraeus’s refineries in Germany and Hong Kong are on the platinum[11] and palladium[12] good delivery lists maintained by the London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM)[13], and Heraeus Germany is an ordinary member of the LPPM[14].

Heraeus Investment Bars

Heraeus produces a large and varied array of investment grade precious metals bars[15][16], which are highly sought for their German craftsmanship and high quality finish. In the gold bar space, Heraeus manufactures the following bars:

  • gold cast bars in 100 gram, 250  gram, 500 gram, and 1 kg weights
  • gold minted bars in 1 gram, 5 gram, 10 gram, 20 gram, 50 gram, 100 gram[17], and 1 oz weights
  • gold Kinebars in 1 gram, 2 gram, 5 gram, 10 gram, 20 gram, and 1 oz[18] weights (the 2 gram only available as a Kinebar),
  • Heraeus multicard – 5 * 1 gram minted bars
  • Heraeus multidisc[19] – 10 * 1 gram minted bars
  • * Note, Kinebars are bars which use a kinegram security devise. The Heraeus kinebars are actually made by Argor-Heraeus on behalf of Heraeus[20]

In silver investment bars[21], Heraeus produces:

  • silver cast bars in 1 kg[22] , 5 kg[23], and 15 kg[24] weights
  • silver minted bars in 1 oz[25], 100 gram, 250 gram, and 500 gram weights

In platinum[26] and palladium[27], Heraeus produces:

  • minted bars in 1 oz, 100 gram, 500 gram, and 1 kg weights

References and Links

1.^ Heraeus corporate history https://www.heraeus.com/en/group/about_heraeus/corporate_history/corporate_history.aspx

2.^ Heraeus global business units https://www.heraeus.com/en/group/about_heraeus/global_business_units/global_business_units.aspx

3.^ Heraeus corporate boards https://www.heraeus.com/en/group/about_heraeus/corporate_boards/corporate_boards.aspx

4.^ Heraeus group financial statements, 2014, in English https://www.heraeus.com/media/media/group/doc_group/facts_and_figures/financial_publications/2014/Heraeus-Financial-Report-2014.pdf

5.^ Heraeus Metal Management https://www.heraeus.com/en/hmm/hmm_home/home_metal_management.aspx

6.^ Heraeus Metal Management brochure, large file https://www.heraeus.com/media/media/hmm/doc_hmm/HMM160003_Broch_HMM_Layouts_final_Preview_002.pdf

7.^ Heraeus precious metals recycling www.heraeus-recycling.com

8.^ Heraeus precious metals trading www.heraeus-trading.com

9.^ Investment precious metals bar guide, Heraeus brochure https://www.heraeus.com/en/hmm/products_and_solutions_hmm/physical_supply/physical_supply.aspx

10.^ LBMA Good Delivery List http://www.lbma.org.uk/the-good-delivery-list

11.^ fn. LPPM palladium good delivery list http://www.lppm.com/platinum-list

12.^ LPPM palladium good delivery list http://www.lppm.com/palladium-list

13.^ London Platinum and Palladium Market good delivery list http://www.lppm.com/good-delivery/

14.^ London Platinum and Palladium Market – members http://www.lppm.com/members-list/

15.^ Heraeus investment bar range https://www.heraeus.com/media/media/hmm/doc_hmm/HMM_FL_Bars_EN_PREVIEW.pdf

16.^ Heraeus Gold Bars, Goldbarsworldwide, Greedon International, 2014 http://www.goldbarsworldwide.com/PDF/RB_3_HeraeusGoldBars.pdf

17.^ Heraeus 100 gram minted gold bar https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/gold_heraeus_100g

18.^ Heraeus 1 oz gold kinebar https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/gold_kinebar_1oz

19.^ Heraeus Multidisc 10 * 1 gram gold bars https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/gold_heraeus_multidisc_10g

20.^ Kinebars, explanatory document http://www.goldbarsworldwide.com/PDF/NBA_79_Kinebars_Gold.pdf

21.^ Heraeus investment silver bars https://www.heraeus.com/en/hmm/products_and_solutions_hmm/physical_supply/silver_bars/silver_bars.aspx

22.^ Heraeus silver cast bar 1kg https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/silver_heraeus_1kg

23.^ Heraeus silver cast bar 5 kgs https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/silver_heraeus_5kg

24.^ Heraeus silver cast bar 15 kgs https://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/silver_heraeus_15kg

25.^ Heraeus silver minted bar 1 ozhttps://www.bullionstar.com/buy/product/silver_heraeus_1oz

26.^ Heraeus platinum investment bars https://www.heraeus.com/en/hmm/products_and_solutions_hmm/physical_supply/platinum_bars/platinum_bars.aspx

27.^ Heraeus palladium investment bars https://www.heraeus.com/en/hmm/products_and_solutions_hmm/physical_supply/palladium_bars/palladium_bars.aspx