Socio-economic study

The most important employer, important contractor for SMEs, and indispensable taxpayer for the communities - the K+S Werra plant is "a central building block for the economic and demographic development of the region."

These are the findings of a 114-page scientific study commissioned by K+S and prepared by the Institut GMA - Gesellschaft für Markt- und Absatzforschung mbH, Munich - together with BHP Brugger und Partner, Zurich. The authors of the study describe the Werra plant as "an essential pillar for stabilising the population in the region". The work has clearly positive and formative effects for the region of East Hesse/West Thuringia. Not only the labour and training market benefits from this, the incentives also have an impact on the municipalities as well as on the local medium-sized economy. K+S is therefore "the central node in an intensively networked, regional value-added system".

The entire region benefits from the Werra potash plant

  • K+S most important regional employer with 4,400 employees at Werra plant
  • Company creates another 3,000 jobs with suppliers in Hesse and Thuringia
  • In 2012 alone, regional medium-sized companies received orders worth 195 million euros.
  • More than 3,300 suppliers under contract
  • Tax benefits of around EUR 80 million benefit mainly local communities and the region
  • Tourism in the region benefits from potash mining

"In many cases, parts of the public only notice the impact that potash mining has on nature. However, the study now available impressively demonstrates the numerous positive effects of potash mining on the region and underlines the great importance of our combined plants for small and medium-sized enterprises as well as for local communities," says Alexa Hergenröther, CEO of K+S Minerals and Agriculture GmbH.

K+S had commissioned the study to examine the socio-economic effects of the Werra plant for pending administrative proceedings.

The scientists analyzed the effects of the plant on the local and regional economic environment and determined the direct and indirect effects on infrastructure, population and economy. In addition to the evaluation of statistical data and specialist publications, 26 expert interviews were also essential instruments of the study. Among others, experts from local/regional economy, health and nature conservation, authorities, politics and tourism were interviewed.

Value creation safeguards employment and creates quality of life

In addition to the 4400 employees who work at the four sites of the Werra plant in Hesse and Thuringia, the network of plants also has a considerable indirect effect on employment in the districts of Hersfeld-Rotenburg and Wartburg, as well as in the peripheral areas of neighboring districts. The plant's total value added in the form of wages, taxes and purchasing services amounts to more than EUR 420 million annually and is the basis for a further 2,500 to 3,000 jobs indirectly linked to the potash industry in the region. Including the associated households, a total of about 16,000 citizens thus secure their livelihood completely or predominantly through potash mining in the Werra region.

Of the EUR 195 million that remained as orders with medium-sized regional companies in the 2012 survey year alone, a large number of sectors profited. These included craft firms as well as transport and logistics companies, construction companies, companies from the steel and plant construction sector as well as a large number of service providers and retailers. Although the purchasing focus, with a total of about 125 million euros, lies in the districts of Hersfeld-Rotenburg and Wartburgkreis, economic interdependencies can also be observed in the districts of Fulda (62 million), Schwalm-Eder (2 million) and Vogelsbergkreis (about 1.8 million).

In particular, the plant's local communities also benefited from the tax revenue. In terms of "tax revenue per inhabitant", Heringen and Philippsthal reached an order of magnitude similar to Wiesbaden and were even significantly higher than the Thuringian state capital Erfurt.

"Regionally, this added value enables investments in urban development, social infrastructure, leisure and sports facilities. It not only benefits the tourist attractiveness of the Werra region, which would be difficult to develop without the existing infrastructure, but also provides a high level of quality of life for the people living here," the study continues.

Jobs and training positions stabilize demographic development

With qualified jobs and a wide range of training opportunities, the Werra plant is a stabilizing factor for population development in the region. "Without jobs at the Werra plant, a significant decline in the population can be expected, with young and well-educated groups of the population particularly affected," the authors say. Around 300 trainees, more than a third of whom come from Thuringia, are currently being trained at the Werra plant to become skilled workers in a total of eight occupational profiles and, following successful completion of their training, are mostly employed on a permanent basis. This means that the plant accounts for around 15 percent of all training positions in the Hersfeld-Rotenburg district.

In cooperation with the Heringer Werratalschule, K+S is also involved in the double-qualifying course "A-levels and chemical-technician assistance" , in which laboratories and specialist personnel from the plant are made available for the practical training of chemical laboratory assistants. Further school cooperations in Hessian and Thuringian communities support the qualification of young people and help them to find a career.

A driving force for the region


The authors also attach great importance to the study to K+S Group facilities in the Werratal that are not directly connected with potash production, as their establishment in the region is directly connected with the plant. The Werra Kombi Terminal in Philippsthal and the new Analytics and Research Center in Unterbreizbach are cited as examples.

As a central logistics facility for container transports, the Werra Kombi-Terminal is also available to freight forwarders from the regional environment and provides them with cost-effective and service-oriented access to the seaports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. " This means that the transshipment center extends the transportation infrastructure of the Werratal by an important long-distance component and increases its logistical attractiveness," according to the authors.

The new Analytics and Research Center as a central facility of the K+S Group is a considerable increase in personnel, so that after the start of operations, about 90 highly qualified scientists, engineers and technicians will have their jobs there. This will also contribute to the demographic stabilization of the regional environment.

Tourism also benefits from the mining tradition in the region. They refer to the attraction of the Merkers Adventure Mine with its approximately 80,000 visitors annually, the potash mining museum in Heringen and the attractiveness of the tailings piles for nature lovers and mountaineers. "The tailings piless are unique landmarks," emphasize the authors.

In summary, the authors of the study state that "the Werra plant as a whole has a positive effect on socio-economic structures and developments in the regional environment".  Against the background of the structural framework conditions in the region, the authors of the study do not see any other institution apart from the network of Werra plants that could achieve these effects through economic activities.