„This is a brave decision which the employees of the Legnica plant have been awaiting for many years. The Management Board which I lead appreciates the competence and commitment of Legnica’s employees, but is also determined to develop their skills. The newly-designated direction of development for the Legnica Copper Smelter and Refinery will also be of major significance for the entire production line of KGHM. Construction of the rotary-casting-refining furnace will also ensure us of continuity of production by the plant. The change in technology in the electrorefining section which will be introduced by the year 2020 will guarantee higher production capacity, greater efficiency, and what is key, will decrease unit production costs. This investment provides an excellent future for the Legnica Copper Smelter and Refinery and KGHM as a whole,” says Radosław Domagalski-Łabędzki, President of the Management Board of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A.
Development of the Legnica Copper Smelter and Refinery involves the construction of a revolving casting-refining complex for the processing of copper scrap, which will be able to process 67 thousand tonnes of copper scrap. This investment in new technology in the electrorefining section, which most of KGHM’s competitors already use, signals a new direction by the facility in the development of electrorefining by KGHM.
„The application of modern technology will enable copper cathode production by the Legnica Copper Smelter and Refinery to be increased by around 40 percent. This investment will be based on the existing infrastructure of the facility and our employee potential,” says Michał Topolnicki, Executive Director of the Legnica Copper Smelter and Refinery.
The new furnace will serve several functions, including the casting of scrap and refining (a process formerly carried out by the shaft furnaces). The new furnace will therefore serve an auxilliary function for the two existing shaft furnaces. During maintenance shutdowns it will be able to substitute for them, which ensures full production capacity by the facility for a period of 12 months.
There will be a complete change in technology in the electrorefining section of the Legnica Copper Smelter and Refinery. The existing technology based on thin cathode starter sheets will be replaced by ISA technology. The starter sheets will be replaced by steel matrices made of acid-resistant steel. The sides of the sheets will be gradually covered to form cathodes. The cathode production process will also include among others machinery dedicated to „roughing” the cathodes and preparing the matrices.
The production of cathodes using ISA technology means improved production efficiency, automation of the production process, lower production costs and safer working conditions.
At present the Legnica Copper Smelter and Refinery produces around 114 thousand tonnes of cathode copper. Following completion of this two-stage investment, the plant’s production capacity will increase to 160 thousand tonnes of cathode copper annually. Metraco – a company in the KGHM Group – will remain the plant’s supplier of scrap.