Overpelt ( Limburg: Pelt ) is a municipality in the Flemish region in Belgium with 14,400 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2012). Overpelt belongs to the province (administrative district ) of Limburg. The place is located near the border with the Netherlands, 25 km south of Eindhoven.

Dommel / water mills

Overpelt is the neighboring Neerpelt separated from the Dommel River, a tributary of the Meuse. At the Dommel in Overpelt are four water mills, of which two, the Kleinmolen and Wedelse moles, mentioned as early as 710.

Zinc factory

Overpelt is the site of a major zinc factory Umicore. It was founded in 1888 by German industrialist Wilhelm Schulte. Schulte did not get approval for the construction of its plant in the Ruhr area, because the activities were even then regarded in Germany as too polluting.

In purely rural Overpelt with its uneconomic sandy soil, its heath, woods and you were pleased with Schulte 's factory, as they along with the new Meuse-Scheldt canal and the railway Antwerp -Mönchengladbach ( the so-called cotton train) the area industrialized. After the First World War, the factory was nationalized. Since 1989 it is part of today's Umicore.


The zinc plant of Umicore, the soil heavily contaminated with similar works in Lommel, Balen and Budel with cadmium. It should be drunk not own soil water in Overpelt; from the consumption of vegetables from their own gardens is not recommended. A high proportion of cancer cases in the local population is attributed to the zinc works, but has never been able to be proven scientifically.

In 2004, Umicore has signed an agreement with the Flemish government, after which the company will pay the costs for remediation of soil and groundwater contamination in and around the four works. After extensive soil testing will begin in the fall of 2006 with the renovation of the disused production areas in Overpelt.

Operation Market Garden

From the site of the zinc factory Allied troops conquered in 1944 Joe 's Bridge, a springboard for the land forces of Operation Market Garden.

Industrial area

Today is located within the zinc factory Umicore near the hamlet Overpelt - Fabriek an important industrial area for the whole region, the so-called Nolimpark of 1961. It is one of the first industrial regions of Belgium. The place Overpelt has accordingly developed into a small town, together with the adjacent Neerpelt.