The extraction of copper ore and its processing by the metallurgical plants is inextricably linked to environmental impact in all its dimensions - both renewable and non-renewable. KGHM does not avoid its responsibility towards the environment, and systematically modernizes its installations designed to protect the environment.
Total environmental fees paid by the Company in 2014 slightly exceeded PLN 29.5 million. The level of charges was lower than in 2013, despite the annual increase of environmental fees. This was due to the lower production of tailings at the Legnica smelter/refinery in connection with the plant’s maintenance downtime. The highest rates - over PLN 18.8 million - were paid by the Company for the drainoff of excess water from the Żelazny Most tailings storage facility. The second largest expense – exceeding PLN 6.3 million – was the fee for emissions into the atmosphere.
In our efforts to balance our impact on the natural environment, we undertake a number of proactive environmental actions. These include, among others, initiatives aimed at adequate utilization or renovation of the natural environment in places where the company conducts its operations.
The most crucial initiatives were the following:
- commencement of electrical energy and heat production in the combined cycle gas and steam units
- financial guarantees for the Żelazny Most tailings storage facility
- commencement of actions connected with the development of so-called initial reports, and
- improvement of air quality around the SG2 shaft in the Polkowice-Sieroszowice mine
Commencement of electrical energy and heat production in high-efficiency cogeneration in the combined cycle gas and steam units in Polkowice and Głogów will allow greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere to be reduced by 40 percent in relation to emissions from conventional coal-fired sources. The output of these units will cover around one fifth of KGHM’s demand for electrical energy. In the year 2014, for the first time in the Company’s history, a financial guarantee was established for the Żelazny Most tailings storage facility. Its purpose was to secure financing for activities related to the future closure of the facility, its renovation, and monitoring.
The Company also commenced actions connected with the development of so-called initial reports for the metallurgical plants in Głogów and Legnica. These reports describe the soil and water environment. Thanks to this analysis, KGHM will obtain a map of contaminants in the soil and underground water in the area where the metallurgical plants are located. The obligation to have such reports was introduced after an amendment to the environmental protection law in the year 2014.
In order to meet the expectations of local communities, KGHM also undertakes actions aimed at improving air quality around the SG2 shaft of the PolkowiceSieroszowice mine. In recent years, emissions from the shafts have been burdensome for local residents due to their perceptible, unpleasant odour. The situation improved in 2014 when an installation for fogging the air with a special mixture to reduce the odorous compounds was installed. The measures taken are not fully efficient, and KGHM is working on acquiring technology that will ultimately solve this problem.
KGHM is also a member of six international consortia, formed to comply with the EU’s REACH decree on the safe use of chemicals. The relevant documentation on substances used in the Company is constantly updated.
Altogether, the Company spent PLN 601 million for environmentally-focused investments in 2014.
The most important ecological actions of the Company, scheduled for the near future, are the following:
- adaptation of administrative decisions to changes in the law
- continuation of work related to the modernisation of pyrometallurgy at the Głogów smelter/refinery
- supervision of the system for trading CO2 emissions
- work related to ensuring the security of the Żelazny Most tailings storage facility, such as strengthening the containment dam
- continuation of the program to promote health and prevent environmental threats – aimed at the inhabitants of former protective zones, and
- development of the Żelazny Most tailings storage facility by the socalled southern quarter