About the Region
Saxony is a federal state of Germany, bordering the federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, and Bavaria, as well as the countries of Poland and the Czech Republic. The capital of Saxony is Dresden and the largest city in the state is Leipzig. Saxony is the 10th-largest of Germany's 16 states, with an area of 18,450 square kilometres, and the sixth-most populous, with a population of about 4 million people.
Today, the automobile industry, machinery production and services contribute to the economic development of the region. The industries based on regional natural resources in Saxony are agriculture, including farming, forestry and fishery, as well as the mining and metallurgy industry. Saxony is also one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Germany - especially the cities of Leipzig and Dresden and their surroundings.
The Mining and Metallurgy Industry
Saxony is a mining state and mining enjoys a solid public reputation in the region due to its centuries-old history and the ever-growing wealth brought to Saxony as a result. The region is rich in natural materials. The deposits are, however, rather small-scale deposits/occurrences except a number of tin and lithium deposits, which are under investigation.
Most income is generated by aggregate mining of solid rock, sand and gravel. Traditionally, mining of rare earth elements and kaolin supply an innovative technical ceramics and china industry. The first European china was invented in 1710 in Saxony. With regard to ore and spar mineralisation, most of the shallow deposits have been mined over a long mining period stretching from the Middle Ages to 1990. Most of these deposits are now depleted or have become economically unviable. Investigations to valorise the substantial occurrences of close to surface low grade ore and deep seated potentially high-grade ore are now subject to R&D and extensive data exploration. The investigations are focusing on commodities such as indium, rare earths, tungsten, tin, fluorite, lithium, gallium, molybdenum, copper and silver.
Lignite is extracted in three open-cast mines and nearly 300 small and medium enterprises produce aggregates, industrial minerals and hard rock.
Saxony is still one of the true metallurgy regions in the EU. Pyro- and hydrometallurgical works are historically closely associated to metal mining. Today, the smelters are entirely operated with scrap, even though backward integration is a raising subject of concern in scrap supply. The main smelters in the Saxony region are Nickelhütte Aue GmbH (Co, Cu, Ni), Befesa (Zn), Muldenhütten (Pb), and Feinhütte Halsbrücke GmbH (Sn), which is one out of four remaining tin smelters in Europe.
Mineral Deposits and Metallurgy Production Sites
Most of the ore and spar deposits in Saxony are located in the Ore Mountains, Vogtland or in distinct distribution areas. The rest of the deposits can be found near Schleife and Weisswasser in Lusatia (North Sudeten Basin), north Leipzig (Delitzsch Granodiorite Massif) and the central Saxon Hills (Granulite Mountains). Due to the increase in global market prices the exploration of ore and spar, in particular tin, tungsten, zinc, lithium, fluorite and barite, including substantial critical raw material by-products, re-started in 2005 and led to the re-opening of a fluorspar mine in 2015. Another mining project, focusing on lithium in the cross-border region to the Czech Republic, project is already in the phase of feasibility and the permitting procedures have started in the end of 2017, while further projects are planned.