The Balen smelter is one of the world’s largest zinc smelters in terms of production volume. The Balen and Pelt sites are only 18 kilometres apart. The sites’ operations are complementary and highly integrated.

Cathodes produced at Balen and Auby in France are transported to the centralised melting & casting facilities in Pelt. The Pelt site includes one of Europe’s largest oxide washing facilities that serves as a central washing facility for the pre-treatment of purchased secondaries prior to their consumption by the European Nyrstar smelters.

The casting facilities in Pelt include a state-of-the-art melting furnace and fully automated casting lines. The Balen smelter produces zinc from feedstock of both zinc concentrates and recycled zinc secondary feed materials. The Balen smelter can process a high percentage of secondary feed material input without adversely affecting overall plant productivity, efficiency or residue output.

The Balen and Pelt operations produce SHG zinc and a range of high value alloy products such as ZAMAK die casting alloy. Balen also produces sulphuric acid, copper cement and Balen Leach Product that contains lead and precious metals.

Quick facts

Technology: roast, leach, electrolysis (RLE) smelting, oxide washing

Products: special high grade (SHG) zinc, zinc alloys and sulphuric acid

Employees: 574

Nyrstar Balen/Pelt holds certificates for:


The Balen and Pelt smelter operations are located in the northeast of Belgium, approximately 80 km east of Antwerp. Concentrates are transported by train from the port of Antwerp and secondary zinc feed materials are delivered to the plant by truck.


In 1888, the Balen site began production of calcine (roasted zinc ore) under the brand ‘Vieille Montagne’, followed by its first zinc production two years later.

In 1899, the roasting capacity doubled and a sulphuric acid plant was added. Between 1910 and 1976, the site operated as an integrated zinc-lead smelter organically growing to one of the largest roasting facilities in the world nine years later. For the last decades, the zinc smelter has used an electrolysis process to produce its zinc.

The site chronologically operated under the name Vielle Montagne, Acec-Union Minière, Union Minière and Umicore until Nyrstar was founded in 2007. The operation in Pelt started one year earlier, in 1887, as a multi metal production site.

Further historical facts and anecdotes are available here: www.overpeltfabriek.be.

Nyrstar Balen/Pelt on the map