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Heraeus Precious Metals Refinery

Heraeus is a global technology company specializing in precious and rare metals, materials science, medical technology, quartz glass smelting, sensors, and specialty light sources. The company, which the Heraeus family privately holds, is headquartered in Hanau, Germany, with approximately 14,900 employees in 40 countries worldwide. The location of Hanau is about 25 kilometers east of Frankfurt. One of the Heraeus group’s main activities is the processing and trading of gold, silver and other industrial precious metals. The consumer base of the Heraeus group from over 50 countries includes the electronics, telecommunications, electricity, transportation, chemical, mining, watch, and metals industries.Heraeus provides a wide variety of precious metals bars for the investment gold and silver markets highly regarded worldwide, thanks to a large processing capacity for precious metals, including a gold refining capacity range of 400–500 tonnes per annum. The four Heraeus precious metals trading desk located in Hanau (Germany), Shanghai, New York City, and Hong Kong execute orders, provide account management and financing services for its customer base, and contribute significantly to the group’s overall annual revenues. Heraeus, therefore, is an essential component of the German gold market. It is also directly involved in the Swiss gold market due to its partial ownership of major Swiss precious metals refinery Argor-Heraeus. Other shareholders in Argor-Heraeus are Austrian Mint and Commerzbank.

History of the Heraeus group

Heraeus group is a leading family-owned multinational company. It is one of Germany’s largest family-owned businesses in terms of revenue. The company’s origins can be traced to a family pharmacy founded in 1660 by Isaac Heraeus (1636 -1676). In 1851, Wilhelm Carl Heraeus, a pharmacist and chemist, took over his father’s “Einhorn Apothecary” in Hanau at 24. Back then, Hanau was a town of goldsmiths. Platinum was processed for the production of jewelry in that town. Platinum’s hardness and a high melting point of 1770 degrees Celsius made it extremely difficult for goldsmiths to process. Wilhelm Carl Heraeus, who studied chemistry and pharmacy, understood the problems that goldsmiths faced. He started working on developing new applications for platinum refining. After a series of experiments, using his own specially designed oxyhydrogen blowpipe, he first succeeded in melting platinum in large quantities and producing pure metal in 1856. In 1857, W.C. Heraeus successfully produced around 30 kilograms of pure platinum. By 1896, he was already melting and processing more than 1000 kilograms of pure platinum. Wilhelm Carl Heraeus started laying the foundations for a multinational family enterprise.

As the company grew, it needed new premises and facilities, so the W.C. Heraeus Platinum Smelting Factory was established outside Hanau in 1896, employing 40 people. Wilhelm and Heinrich Heraeus, the company founder’s two sons, took over as managers two years later.

The  third generation of the Heraeus family took over the company in 1927, led by Wilhelm Heinrich Heraeus and his cousin Reinhard Heraeus, who remained at the helm of the business for nearly 40 years. Heraeus took advantage of several new material discoveries during this period. For example, they were the first to produce dental alloys.

By 1939, it employed about 1000 people with annual revenue of about 20 million Reichsmarks. Heraeus began expanding internationally in 1958, initially in France and Italy. Then Japan, the United States, South Korea, and the Philippines.

From 1983 until 2000, Jürgen Heraeus, the son of Reinhard Heraeus, a company director since 1970, led the company. Company was in it’s generation fourth generation by now. The company grew into a global group of companies under his management. Heraeus Holding GmbH was established in 1985 by the Heraeus family to serve as a holding vehicle for the entire company. There were five broad divisions in the group, namely Heraeus Quarzglas (quartz glass), Heraeus Noblelight (specialty light sources), W. C. Heraeus (precious metals), Heraeus Electro-Nite (sensors), and Heraeus Kulzer (dental and medical products).

Heraeus celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2001. Between the 2009 and 2011 period, the W. C. Heraeus business group was divided into two separate companies: Heraeus Precious Metals and Heraeus Materials Technology. Heraeus Kulzer’s dental products division was sold in 2013. In 2015, Heraeus Precious Metals and Heraeus Materials Technology were further reorganized, giving birth to Heraeus Metal Management, the current precious metals business unit.

Organizational structure

Heraeus Precious Metals and Materials Technology businesses were reorganized in 2015 into seven global business units: Heraeus Metal Management ( specializes in  precious metals cycle products, along with precious metals recycling, precious metals trading, and the melting and pre-production of precious metals), Heraeus Photovoltaics (thick film technology manufacturer for the photovoltaics industry), Heraeus Performance Products (Manufacturer of Products that can be found in the hard drive industry, the watchmaking and automotive industries, and in the areas of lab equipment and decorative coloring), Heraeus Electronics (manufacturer of materials for the assembly and packaging of devices in the electronics industry), Heraeus Chemicals (specializes in the development of products and solutions for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries), Heraeus Medical Components (provides expert, comprehensive medical component manufacturing services, meeting a broad range of functional demands), and Heraeus New Businesses (platform for new, high growth businesses).

The four existing business group, Heraeus Medical (focuses on medical products for surgical orthopedics and traumatology), Heraeus Electro-Nite (global leader in the field of molten metal measurement technology), Heraeus Quarzglas (specializes in the manufacturing and processing of high-purity quartz glass), and Heraeus Noblelight (global market and technology leaders in the field of special purpose lamps and modules in the ultraviolet to infrared wavelength range for industrial, scientific and medical applications) were retained, taking the total number of global business units to 11. Each of these 11 global business units has a president as the head. Heraeus Holding is managed by a management board comprised of the group chief executive, operations, technology, and commercial officers. There is also a group executive committee made up of the presidents of the business units, members of the board of management, and other key executives.

As the group’s core strategic management unit, Heraeus Holdings sits above all of these companies. In total, there are over 100 Heraeus companies in the group, which employs over 14,900 people.

Group financial highlights

The revenue of the Heraeus group is divided into two parts: products revenue from all groups and a separate revenue source from precious metals trading. In the fiscal year 2013, Heraeus achieved product revenue of €3.6 billion and precious metals trading revenue of €13.5 billion. Precious metals are also one of the main revenue contributors within products revenue, accounting for €1.8 billion in 2013. In 2014, the group generated overall revenue of EUR 15.59 billion, which included EUR 12.23 billion in precious metals trading revenue and EUR 3.36 billion in product revenue. Precious metals are also one of the main revenue contributors within products revenue, accounting for EUR 1.19 billion in 2014. In 2014, precious metals goods and trading accounted for 86% of sales. In 2014, Asia accounted for more than 50% of Heraeus’ product revenue, highlighting the importance of Asian markets to the company’s fortunes. In the 2015 financial year, Heraeus generated a total revenue of €12.9 billion and generated €1.9 billion without precious metal. sWith approximately 12,500 employees worldwide in more than 100 subsidiaries in 38 countries. In 2016, the Foundation for Family Businesses named Heraeus one of the Top 10 Family Businesses. In 2019, Heraeus generated €22.4 billion in revenue with approximately 14,900 employees in 40 countries

Heraeus Metal Management

In 2015, all the group’s precious metals services and activities were reorganized into one business unit, which is Heraeus Metal Management. Metal Management is the group’s precious metals refining, recycling, and trading business unit with 750 employees worldwide.

The following are the products and services that Heraeus provides to the global precious metals industry:

Heraeus trades gold, silver, platinum, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium, osmium, palladium, and rhenium (a semi-precious metal). The group’s metals recycling facilities are situated in Hanau in Germany, Taicang in China, Port Elizabeth in South Africa, Udaipur in India, Santa Fe Springs in California, and Wartburg in Tennessee, U.S.

Heraeus Physical Precious Metals

Heraeus is one of the world’s leading precious metals suppliers. When it comes to physical precious metals investments, Heraeus bars are among the most popular investment products. Since 1972, Heraeus manufactures London Good Delivery Silver, Platinum and Palladium bars. Heraeus manufactures large good Delivery Bars for the wholesale market, smaller investment bars for the investment sector, gold and silver grain for industry, and the jewelry sector.

Heraeus refines gold and produces gold bars in Hanau (Germany), Hong Kong, Newark (USA), and Switzerland at the Argor-Heraeus precious metals refinery, in which Heraeus has a shareholding.

Heraeus Investment Bars

Heraeus manufactures a wide range of investment-grade precious metals bars. All Heraeus gold bars carry a serial number and quality certificate since 2012. Minted bars come in blister cards (85 x 54 mm), while cast bars are sealed in plastic containing the certificate. In the gold bar market, Heraeus manufactures the following bars:

Note: For an extra charge, minted Heraeus gold kinebars are available with an additional, visually appealing security characteristic. Kinebars are Very safe.

The company also manufactures bars for fabricators that weigh 12.5 Kgs.

In silver investment bars, Heraeus produces:

Silver bars may be minted or cast, depending on their size. All Heraeus silver bars are 99.99% pure. Minted bars ranging in size from 1oz to 250g are delivered in blister cards with no serial number. Plastic foil is used to seal cast bars ranging in weight from 250g to 5kg. The 15kg bars are not packed. 

On bars weighing 1kg and up, serial numbers are stamped. Neither minted nor cast bars come with certificates.

In platinum, Heraeus produces 1 oz (40.4 x 23.3 x 1.6 mm), 100 g (49.7 x 28.5 x 3.4 mm), 500 g (80 x 47 x 6.2 mm), and 1000 g 96 x 51 x 9.7 mm

In Palladium, Heraeus produces 1 oz (49.7 x 28.5 x 2 mm), 100 g (49.7 x 28.5 x 6 mm), 500 g (96 x 51 x 8.2 mm), and 1000 g (121.5 x 54.5 x 12.2 mm)


  1. Heraeus corporate history
  1. Heraeus global business units
  1. Wikipedia
  1. Heraeus Metal Management
  1. Investment bars
  1. Heraeus group financial statements (2013)
  1. Heraeus group financial statements (2013 & 2014)
  1. Heraeus group financial statements (2015)
  1. Heraeus group financial statements (2019)

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