It is light, it conducts electricity well and it is easy to work with – aluminium is one of the materials of the future. Thanks to its superb attributes, aluminium is used all over the world. In recent years, Saxony-Anhalt has become more and more a place for aluminium companies. Four international companies from the sector have settled in the Bernburg district in the heart of the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Nachterstedt in the Salzland district. It is November 2015 and the waiting is finally over. The Novelis Group from the USA is opening its new automotive production line. Novelis has invested 62 million Euros in the production plant. Every year, 120,000 tonnes of sheet aluminium are set to be manufactured here. For Novelis, the plant is an important step forwards in further strengthening its position as a leading supplier of rolled aluminium for the area of vehicle production. The automotive industry is making increasing use of aluminium in the field of body construction. Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW – they all want to and have to increase their vehicles’ levels of fuel efficiency and reduce their CO2 emissions. This is also an opportunity for innovative companies. Novelis, which has been in the market for lightweight vehicle body production for 40 years, is a leading company at the most important automotive locations all over the world. A conscious decision was made in favour of the location of Nachterstedt. In addition to the rolling mill with its capacity for cold rolls, surface finishing, coating and refinement for vehicles, packaging, construction and industry, in 2014, the biggest recycling plant in the world for scrap aluminium opened. This means short distances and efficient processes. And for the region this means an economic upswing and new jobs. Around 1,200 people are employed at Novelis, making the company one of the biggest employers in Saxony-Anhalt. Nachterstedt has everything that a growing company needs: an established infrastructure, efficient logistics and the necessary professionals. The location of Nachterstedt is now the biggest of the nine Novelis sites in Europe. Its customers are to be found both all over the world and in the immediate vicinity.
In December 2014, just a few kilometres away on the A14 near Bernburg, the international Befesa Group opened its second aluminium smelting plant. Befesa is one of Novelis’ important business partners. This is where the scrap material from Novelis is prepared for re-use. On this basis, networks of global companies are created in Saxony-Anhalt. It is a sign that the federal state’s efforts to attract new companies are bearing fruit. General Manager of Befesa, Georg Matthies praised the collaboration with the contact partners in the region. “It works very smoothly. We have been welcomed very warmly; most importantly, everyone has been very sympathetic in what is an exceptionally positive atmosphere. We looked for the right location all over Germany, but this is where the package was right.”
Saxony-Anhalt focuses on innovative lead markets, including mechanical and plant engineering and resource efficiency. At a time when resources are in short supply, the preparation of industrial waste is more and more important. The ultra-modern Befesa smelting plant promises to be one of the most productive locations for the production of cast alloys. Befesa has invested 30 million Euros in the location; 70 jobs have been created. In the year 2015, between 45,000 and 50,000 tonnes of aluminium were manufactured, with the output on an upwards trend. Most is going to customers in the region, with the main buyers being the automotive and packaging industries. Recycled aluminium has one major advantage: it only needs around five percent of the energy which is required for the production of primary aluminium and is not of lesser quality.
Within easy reach of Befesa is the Belgium company Coil, which has now been a fixture here for over 10 years. Coil – who is also a service provider for Novelis – refines aluminium strips, mainly for use on façades. The company is known for being the biggest anodising business for aluminium in the world, and has an increasing volume of orders. In Bernburg, 13,000 tonnes of aluminium strip are refined each year. It is on this basis that Coil wants to start up an additional production line in Bernburg and win over new customers with a wider range of products. The Belgian company is planning to spend 22 million Euros on the new line. The test run is planned for the end of the year. Production is set to start in the first quarter of 2017.
Why Bernburg? “More than everything else it was the proximity to Novelis which was the decider,” explains Plant Manager Gerald Sturm. “Eastern Europe is the next area of business we are looking to tap into.” As a location with a central position, Bernburg is therefore ideal. The infrastructure offers the best framework conditions for the companies. Then there are highly qualified staff and good links to the transport network.
The Italian Almeco Group is also focusing on innovation at the same location. Almeco manufactures highly reflective and absorbent reflectors and/or collectors for solar technology, light and lamp construction. The group has five operational sites worldwide, with its main plant in Saxony-Anhalt. It is looking to the future. In Saxony-Anhalt, seven employees work on new solutions at the company’s own research facility. The company is also in close contact with colleges and universities in the region. Their success has given Almeco confidence: since 2006, the company has brought a new product onto the market each year. Managing Director Giogio Locci has faith in its 56 employees. “Money is the same everywhere. It’s the people who make the difference,” highlights Locci, “with their experience and their culture, they can’t be replaced.” Locci has promised his staff that they will keep their jobs. This has gone down well in the region. Almeco has invested around 40 million Euros at the location. “We’re here to sow, not just to harvest,” says the Director who has been living in Saxony-Anhalt for ten years. Locci tells us that he really likes Bernburg, but he’ll always have a place in his heart for Italy.