Głogów Copper Smelter and refinery

The Głogów copper smelter in Poland produces the highest quality cathode copper as well as silver, gold and concentrates of platinum group metals.  

General Information

The Głogów copper smelter/refinery comprises two separate metallurgical plants – Głogów I and Głogów II. Even though different smelting technology is currently applied in these two smelters (Głogów I is being updated with the same modern flash furnace technology as Głogów II), the final product is the same - electrolytically refined, 99.99% pure copper in the form of cathodes. In the Precious Metals Plant of the Głogów copper smelter/refinery the following metals are produced: 99.99% pure silver in the form of bars and granules, bars of gold with more than 99.95% Au content, and platinum-palladium concentrate. The products of the Głogów copper smelter/refinery are characterised by very high quality guaranteed by their internationally renowned global market brands.

History

Construction of the Głogów I smelter/refinery, with traditional shaft furnace technology, began in 1968 and was commissioned in July 1971. At that time production capacity was 160 thousand tonnes of electrolytic copper annually. In 1974, in Żukowice, near Głogów, the second part of the smelter was opened - Głogów II (capacity of 159 thousand tonnes/year). Modern one-stage flash furnace copper smelting technology was installed in this smelter - the first such use of this technology in the world. The smelter started operations on 8th January 1978.  Additional production lines were also created in the Głogów copper smelter/refinery to manage production of other metals and copper-related compounds:  

- the Sulphuric Acid Plant – utilising converter gases to produce sulphuric acid;
- the Lead Plant – using lead-bearing materials to produce crude lead; 
- the Associated Metals Unit, comprised of sections processing: Sodium Arsenite, Anode Slimes and Electrolyte Purification. 

In the years 1990-1993, a Precious Metals Plant was built at the Głogów copper smelter/refinery to recover silver, gold and small amounts of platinum group metals from the anode slimes remaining after electrolytic copper production.  
In the years 2000-2001, the Lead Plant, opened in 1973, was entirely modernised.  It has targeted annual production capacity of 230 thousand tonnes of crude lead.

Production

The production process in the Głogów I smelter makes use of shaft furnaces and the copper concentrate smelting technology.

The main stages of this process are:

  • Preparation of charge for smelting - preparation of concentrate briquettes; 
  • Smelting - as a result copper matte is obtained. This is an alloy of sulphides, mainly copper and iron sulphides;
  • Converting, i.e. the processing of copper matte in a converter furnace (oxidisation of sulphides) to obtain crude copper with 98.5% Cu content;
  • Fire refining in an anode furnace to remove impurities and cast copper anodes;
  • Electro-refining, during which anode copper is dissolved in electrolyte and copper is recollected on cathodes.

Copper cathodes are the final product. These are sold or are processed further to obtain other products at the Cedynia copper wire rod plant. The anode slimes remaining after electro-refining operations are processed to recover silver as well as small quantities of gold and platinum group metals.

The production at the Głogów II copper smelter is based on modern one-stage flash furnace smelting technology, in which blister copper is produced directly from dried concentrate.

The production process consists of:

  • Concentrate smelting to obtain copper blister with 99% Cu content in a flash furnace during a three-phase cycle (pressing of the concentrate, smelting of the copper matte, and converting);
  • Processing of blister copper in rotary and stationary furnaces to obtain anodes;
  • Electrorefining of anodes to arrive at the final product - 99.99% pure cathode copper.

The cathodes obtained during the electrorefining process are sold or processed further into other products at the Cedynia copper wire rod plant. Since 2014 the "Głogów I" Smelter has been preparing itself for the replacement of the existing shaft furnaces with new flash furnaces.

Enviroment

The Głogów copper smelter/refinery meets strict Polish and European Union environmental protection standards. It is one of the cleanest copper smelting and refining facilities in the world, a model for other such industrial complexes internationally. During the past 17 years, investment outlays on enhancing environmental performance amounted to PLN 450 million (around $150 million). On the territory of the former protection zone around the facilities, around 911 hectares of forests was planted, while 605 hectares were converted into an ecological area of the "Głogow Wetlands", a new habitat for various rare species of plants and animals.