The foundation for Nikkelverk was created by a small group of businessmen and engineers – Jacob Børresen, Sam Eyde, Anton Grønningsæter and Swede Viktor Hybinette. This was a group of bold and innovative men who formed Kristiansand Nikkelraffineringsverk AS in 1910. Norway had a rich tradition as a manufacturer of nickel even before 1910. In 1870 there were as many as 40 mines and seven melting plants in operation. Before the turn of the century, 75 % of global nickel production took place in Norway. One of the largest mines was Flåt mine in Evje, about 70 km north of Kristiansand. Nickel ore was extracted at Flåt from 1872 until 1946.

Kristiansand was, at this time, already a well-established region of trade and industry due to its location on the coast which offered convenient access to the markets outside of Norway. It was therefore natural to build a refinery here in order to utilise the ore extracted at Flåt mines. The first few years of production went well; however times were tough after the First World War. In addition to the general worldwide economic recession and low nickel prices, these problems were compounded by a disastrous fire.

The Canadian mining company Falconbridge Nickel Mines Ltd., had discovered large reserves of nickel ore in Sudbury, Canada. The company was looking to purchase a refinery and offered to buy Nikkelverk. The difficult economic situation and the plant's limited access to supplies of nickel ore were the determining factors that eventually persuaded Nikkelverk to accept the offer in 1929. Falconbridge Nikkelverk A/S was established that year. Stable supplies of ore from Canada have made Nikkelverk's development possible.

Production capacity has gradually been expanded to today's annual nickel capacity of approximately 92 000 tons. After a period of interest from several potential buyers, Nikkelverk was sold to Xstrata in 2006. Xstrata was merged with Glencore in 2013 and today we operate under the name Glencore Nikkelverk.