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Copper ore exploration and its subsequent processing are inseparably linked with environmental impact. Therefore, the Company does not want to and cannot avoid responsibility for the condition of the environment. Meeting statutory rigorous environmental standards is possible only by systematic modernisation and development of new systems for the protection of the environment.

In the years 2010–2011, the Company spent more than PLN 300 million on eco-investments (PLN 79 million in 2010 and PLN 213.67 million in 2011). A significant growth in investment outlays vs. 2010 is due to the construction of two environment-friendly gas fueled power blocks in Głogów and Polkowice at cost of PLN 170.3 million.

The production plants of the Company can be proud of the implementation of the ISO 14001 environmental management system. Additionally, the Company carries out an “Effectiveness Programme” which will generate almost PLN 800 million savings per year. This will be supplemented with activities aimed at minimising the environmental impact of the Company.

KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. is a company responsible for the environment

Ecological thinking

Since the beginning of the copper industry, KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. has implemented measures to reduce negative environmental impacts. Limiting this impact has primarily involved the implementation of a long-term investment programme, aimed at air-tight sealing of technology processes, in such way as to ensure that the environmental impact refers only to areas to which the Company has a legal title. Tasks carried out in the environmental protection area were related not only to administrative requirements, but resulted mainly from systematic development of ecological awareness among the management and other employees, as well as understanding the need for co-existence of the industry and environment.


The existing ecological policy, as well as strategic assumptions related to environmental protection, is based on the following grounds:

  • environmental emissions have to meet all standards set forth by Polish and European Union law,
  • all systems with an environmental impact must have a relevant permit granted by public administration authorities,
  • devices used for the purposes of environmental protection are fully technically operational,
  • the Company continuously monitors ecological techniques and technologies in order to implement them in the technological processes of the Company,
  • the Company ensures the development of waste utilisation techniques and a continuous increase in share of waste undergoing recycling in the total waste balance,
  • KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. continuously develops environmental management systems, while taking into account respecting the principles for limitation of greenhouse gas emission,
  • the Company develops current and long-term cooperation with the society and local authorities in order to promote good neighbourhood of the industry and its environment.

In practice, as early as at the end of the 1990’s, the Company implemented European environmental standards, which resulted in granting prestigious awards for eco-activities: “Leader of Polish Ecology” (2001), “Environmentally-Friendly Company” (2002), “Ecolaureate” (2003), “Green Apple Awards” – an award presented in the UK (2003). Additionally, the copper smelters: Głogów, Legnica, and Cedynia, Ore Enrichment Plants and the Tailings Plant implemented and maintain an environmental management system consistent with the ISO 14 001 standard. The operations of the environmental management systems are confirmed with certificates granted by the British Standards Institution, the Polish Centre for Testing and Certification as well as the Polish Certification Centre.

Works started in 2011 related to the implementation of the Integrated Management System on the level of the whole Company also mean the planned implementation of the Integrated Environmental Management System in accordance with the ISO 14000 standard.

This will allow:

  • savings in the consumption of natural resources and fuels,
  • reduction of pollution and waste generated, as well as their utilisation costs,
  • elimination or limitation of processes and irregularities having negative environmental impact,
  • reduction of environmental fees,
  • elimination or limitation of violations of legal requirements on the environmental protection,
  • easier access to financial support from national and foreign funds for eco-investments,
  • insurance rate negotiations,
  • improvement of the image of division in the eyes of public administration authorities and other stakeholders.

As a result of previous decisions, the emission of pollution to the air and water decreased to such a degree that achieving much better results with existing technology is impossible. Therefore, in the area of ecology, the Company’s attention is currently focused on waste management, formal activities related to meeting the requirements set by the European Union for the industry, as well as improvement of the image and building relationships with local communities. Including copper smelters in the European emission trading scheme in 2013 is a new challenge. KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. has already calculated and verified quantities of CO2 generated, in view of the participation of the Company in this scheme. Research works related to potential further reduction and disposal of CO2 generated in production processes have also been started.

Decreasing fees

Continuous improvement of the effectiveness of ecological activities is confirmed by decreasing environmental fees paid by the divisions of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. In 2011, these amounted to PLN 25.478 million, i.e., more than PLN 1 million less than in 2010, despite the annual increase in the fee rates by inflation. In 2011, the largest fees paid by the Company were for sewage discharge: PLN 16.3 million, including PLN 16.26 million for the drain-off of excess water from the “Żelazny Most” waste treatment tailings pond.

On a legal basis

The most important formal and legal tasks completed by the Company in 2011 involved drawing up the environmental impact report for ore production in mining areas and filing the application for a decision on environmental conditions for this project. These documents are necessary in the process of obtaining concessions for underground mining of copper ores after 2013.

The Company has also completed works on the environmental impact report for the “Żelazny Most” waste treatment tailings pond and obtained the decision on environmental conditions for these facilities. The production waste management programme was also prepared and approved by Lower Silesia Voivode. All these activities resulted from the Directive on production waste being incorporated into Polish law, which required obtaining the permit for operating the “Żelazny Most” waste treatment tailings pond starting 1 May 2012. Such permit for the facilities was obtained in April 2012.

Additionally, the Company has eight systems operating which requires having an integrated environmental permit in accordance with the Environmental Protection Law Act. They include:

  • an installation for the production of metallic copper using shaft furnace and flash furnace technology at Głogów smelter,
  • “Biechów I” and “Biechów II” industrial waste storage facilities belonging to the Głogów smelter,
  • an installation for the production of refined lead at Legnica smelter,
  • an installation for the production of metallic copper from copper concentrate and of products recovered from metallurgical and electronic processes, the “Polkowice,” tailings waste facility, a temporary storage facility for lead-bearing concentrates and other installations at Legnica smelter,
  • an installation for melting, continuous casting and rolling of copper at the Cedynia wire rod plant,
  • an installation: “Żelazny Most” waste treatment tailings pond with the capacity of more than 10 tonnes of waste a day,
  • an installation for the neutralisation of sulphuric acid waste at the Ore Enrichment Plants.

Other divisions of the Company have sector administrative decisions on using the environment.

In order to implement the provisions of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (the so-called REACH Regulation), in November 2010, the Company completed the process of registration of seven end substances: copper, silver, lead (crude, refined and bismuth), copper sulphate, nickel sulphate, end slag (from shaft furnace and granulate), sulphuric acid and 20 indirect substances.

Report on shortcuts
Jan Kochanowski (1530­-1584) – poet and playwright of the Renaissance period, graduate
of the Kraków Academy and the Universities of Koenigsberg and Padua, secretary to
King Zygmunt II August of Poland. Considered one of the most outstanding authors of the
Renaissance in Europe and the most eminent Slav poet who contributed to the development of the Polish literary language.
Teresa Bałuk-Ulewiczowa, Ph.D.
Insitute of English Philology
Jagiellonian University in Kraków