R&D in KGHM aims at intensifying production, improving the safety of employees, cost optimisation and the implementation of sustainable solutions.
Based on new technologies, the company is working on the concept of the intelligent mine, where the human factor will be limited, while the possibilities of using human intellect will be enhanced. As part of this project, KGHM is conducting trials in its Polkowice-Sieroszowice mine in Poland using unmanned combines for copper ore extraction. They are to replace the work of people in the most challenging underground environments.
KGHM carries out R&D activities in cooperation with prominent Polish scientific institutions, such as the Research & Development Centre in Wrocław, the Institute of Non-Ferrous Metals in Gliwice, the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, the GIG Central Mining Institute in Katowice, Wrocław University of Technology, Silesian University of Technology, the Polish Geological Institute in Warsaw and the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw. The company is also closely cooperating with leading international institutions: Outotec OY, Bucyrus Europe GmbH (Caterpilar), Sandvik Group, Metso Minerals, Weir Mienerals, Loesche GmbH, SGS Lakefield Research, Separation Technologies LLC, Luleå University of Technology, BRGM and many others.
R&D challenges faced by KGHM:
- finding new processing methods and technologies enabling an increase in the recovery of copper and other metals during the enrichment stage,
- finding new possibilities for the comprehensive utilisation of copper production waste/tailings,
- increased copper cathode production,
- researching new technologies for managing lead-bearing waste.
In 2012, the representatives of KGHM and the National Centre for Research and Development signed an agreement under the auspices of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The agreement involves joint support for scientific research and development work for the non-ferrous metals industry. The total budget of the programme is PLN 200 million and will be implemented over a period of 10 years. The aim of this undertaking is to increase the competitiveness of the Polish economy and to support the development potential of Polish science and industry. The implementation of projects focusing on challenges connected with the core business of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. by scientific-industrial syndicates will make it possible to select ideas which may lead to the development of breakthrough technologies or innovative machinery that would facilitate the core business, or would allow for the development of new and cost-effective materials and products to be used by KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. In January 2014, the first edition of the competition for the implementation of research work was commenced.
In the first half of 2015, an agreement was signed between the Industrial Development Agency and KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. concerning cooperation in the area of implementing innovative projects. Building an innovative economy, smart growth, and enhancing the competitiveness and attractiveness of the Polish industry constitute key tasks for both partners.
The signed agreement aims to commercialize jointly developed technological solutions, including those based on the use of renewable energy sources, developing and disseminating know-how in the field of materials engineering, as well as undertaking joint work and analyses related to innovation. The decision made by KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. and the IDA on mutual cooperation fits into the strategic objectives of both companies. In addition, the implementation of developed solutions in an industrial environment will be co-financed. The partners declared to jointly procure external financing, among others, from European funding, for the purpose of implementing the essential assumptions of the signed agreement.