A mechanical process of copper ore enrichment is essential for effective smelting. The concentration level obtained at the enrichment stage makes the copper material fit for further processing at the smelter. This processing is required due to the fact that the copper ore deposits mined by KGHM in Poland contain, on average, only 1.52% of copper. The technology used by the KGHM Concetration Plant ensures a very effective recovery, even up to 90%, of copper, silver and other elements from the extracted ore which is commonly believed to be difficult to enrich.
The beginnings of the copper ore enrichment at KGHM date back to 1968. That was the year when the first concentrator plant was established at the "Lubin" mine. A year later, ore enrichment began at the "Polkowice" mine, and in 1974, the newest and the largest concentrator plant was opened at the "Rudna" mine. In 1998, KGHM decided to create a single organisational unit. That was the formation of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. Oddział Zakłady Wzbogacania Rud in Polkowice (KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. Division - Ore Concentration Plant Polkowice).
The three concentrators have an annual output of around 2 million tonnes of concentrate with an average 23% copper content. Each of the facilities applies the same methods and processes, such as sifting and crushing, milling and classifying, flotation, thickening and filtration, and drying.
The Concentration Plants operating at each of KGHM’s three mines are able to process around 33 million tonnes of ore per year. Individual plants have different processing capabilities:
- Lubin area - approx. 8 million tonnes,
- Polkowice area - approx. 9.1 million tonnes,
- Rudna area - approx. 16 million tonnes of ore annually.
The final product resulting from the work of the concentration plants is the concentrate that is transported by rail to the "Głogów" Smelter and the "Legnica" Smelter.
Diagram showing processing of copper ore