With a special ceremony and an open day, the 100 year company anniversary of what is currently Granitwerk Fischer GmbH & Co. KG was celebrated with over 800 guests and visitors on 30.04.2011 in Heberndorf near Wurzbach (Fig. 1). The relationship between the local mining authorities and the granite works was marked by excellent cooperation with each other, reported Dr. Reiner Schubert, a former Director of the Gera Mining Authority. The company management had, he continued, always cooperatively supported excursions and numerous studies. Henneberg granite was “one of the best researched granite deposits” in which, for example, over 70 different minerals have been discovered. According to Gert-Dietrich Reuter, Secretary of the UVMB, the trade association for mineral building materials, which represents the interests of over 3000 enterprises in this sector in Germany’s eastern states, the anniversary is an impressive example of durability and countability, but also of the struggle for survival of a medium-size family business. Anyone running a mining operation has to have confidence in the future. “Since 1991 we have championed demand-independent long-term assurance of the supply of raw materials,” explains Reuter. And already since January 1991, in his capacity as operations manager at the Vereinigten Thüringer Schiefergruben GmbH Unterloquitz – Granitwerk Heberndorf, Manfred Fischer joined what was then the trade association for sand, gravel, chippings, mortar, ready-mix concrete and asphalt for Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, the predecessor of the UVMB, and played an active part on various committees on state and federal level.
The company had its origins in Mellenbach, explained Manfred Fischer in a review. His grandfather joined with his brother to start up a diabase quarry in 1911. As the second site, in 1927 a quarry in Henneberg granite was opened up in Heberndorf. A blending plant for the production of mixed chippings with tar or bitumen was built in 1926. With the increasingly strong car industry and the development of the road network, the production of road and paving stones became more important. Parallel to this, the production of crushed products and mass bulk solids was started up. A not unimportant upswing came with a major order for a dam at the later Hohenwarte Reservoir. In 1960 with the construction of the “Hohenwarte II pump storage station”, another 650 000 t concrete aggregate were supplied. A drastic change in the company history came with its nationalization in 1972. Initially operating as the VEB Mellenbacher Hartsteinwerke, from 1976 the Heberndorf Quarry became part of the VEB Vereinigte Thüringer Schiefergruben.
With re-privatization in 1990 the family story continued. Since the year following the political upheaval in Germany, Manfred Fischer has directed the company’s fortunes. Over the years, a lot has been invested. In three major phases, a modern processing plant was installed (Fig. 2). Ballast and high-grade chippings are produced as well as crushed and masonry stone or larger solitary stones. The works had been largely fitted into their environment, as Manfred Fischer reported. The woods serves as visual cover, the buildings blend harmoniously into the landscape and dust extraction prevents unnecessary emissions. “Today, we produce for concrete, hydraulic, track and road construction,” explains Ute Fischer, who, as the first female managing director, has managed the family business since 2007. 1000-2000 t rock per day is sent by lorry to customers, most of whom are located within a radius of around 50 km. In the late 1990s the focus of production was shifted from ballast to high-grade chippings (Fig. 3). In the years from 2003 to 2005, for example, the granite works supplied 145 000 t concrete aggregate for the construction of the dam in Leibis.