Mineral resources of Poland> Metallic raw materials> Copper and silver ores
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Copper and silver ores

Copper ore deposits occur in several countries throughout the world and under various geological conditions. The most important are porphyry copper deposits as well as sediment-hosted stratabound copper deposits and the exhalative-sedimentary ones (massive pyrite ores). Moreover, there are other igneous copper ores of various types, generally characterized by smaller resources but sometimes of high economic value.

Polish copper ores belong to the stratabound type. The deposits are situated in areas of the Fore-Sudetic Monocline and North Sudetic Basin in the Lower Silesia and related to the Zechstein Kupferschifer formation. Minerals containing copper and other metals are mainly concentrated in the copper-bearing shales as well as underlaying sandstones and overlying dolomites. Deposits of the largest economic importance are those from the vicinities of Lubin in the Fore-Sudetic Monocline.

The copper-bearing series comprises three separate lithological layers: sandstones at the base, clay-marly or dolomitic shales and dolomitic limestones in upper part. Copper mineralization is the strongest in the black clay shales which, therefore, are named the Copper-bearing Shales. The major copper minerals of the ores include: chalcocite (Cu2S), bornite (Cu5FeS4) and chalcopyrite (CuFeS2). They are accompanied by numerous other minerals of copper, silver (including native silver), lead, zinc cobalt and nickel.

The copper deposit area extends in a belt 60 km long and 20 km wide, from Lubin in the south-east to Bytom Odrzański in the north-west. This is actually a single deposit area in which copper ores are currently exploited in the Lubin, Polkowice-Sieroszowice and Rudna mines.

Copper ore deposits in Poland are presented on the map.

In areas of the Fore-Sudetic Monocline, Żary Pericline and North Sudetic Basin prognostic resources amounted to 22.7 million tonnes of copper (5 regions with the area of 253 km2, maximum depth of 2,000 m), perspective resources amounted to 5.94 million tonnes of copper (7 regions with the area of 114 km2, maximum depth of 2,000 m) and hypothetical resources to 229.1 million tonnes - including 42.7 million tonnes to the depth of 2,000 m and 186.4 million tonnes below 2,000 m depth (11 regions with the area of 1,830 km2)((1).

Table 1 shows geological resources and the current state of exploration and development of Cu-Ag deposits.

In 2010, copper mining gave 22,448 thousand tonnes of coper ore yielding 472 thousand tonnes of metallic copper and 1,229 tonnes of silver. In comparison with the year 2009, production of copper ore, recovery of copper and recovery of silver decreased by a few percent.

Figure 1 shows resources and production of copper ores and Figure 2 – changes in resources and output of copper in Poland in the years 1989-2010.

The figure given below shows resources and output of silver in the same period.

Other metals recovered from copper ores include Ag, Au, Ni, Pb, Pt-Pd, Se and Re. Recovery of silver is here of the largest economic importance. According to the data provided by the KGHM Polish Copper Combine S.A., in 2010 the copper processing was accompanied by recovery of 1,160.6 tonnes of silver, 22.0 thousand tonnes of lead.

Directions of Polish import and export of copper and silver are presented in tables 2 and 3.

In 2010, the amount of copper ore flotation tailings disposed in the Żelazny Most settling pond was equal about 27.4 million tonnes.

The amount of mining water discharged in 2010 was equal 28.6 million m3, including 26.2 million m3 of saline water and 2.4 million m3 of brines pumped from the Głogów Głęboki-Przemysłowy, Rudna and Sieroszowice mines.

Accepted abbreviations:

  • B - for solid minerals - mine in building process, for fuels - prepared for exploitation or trial period of the exploitation
  • E - exploited
  • G - underground natural gas storage facilities
  • M - deposit crossed out of the annual report of mineral resources during analized period
  • P - deposit covered by preliminary exploration (in C2+D category, for fuels – in C category)
  • R - deposit covered by detailed exploration (in A+B+C1 category, for fuels – in A+B category)
  • Z - abandoned deposit
  • T - deposit exploited temporarily
  • K - change of the raw material in deposit

Prepared by: Agnieszka Malon, Stanisław Z. Mikulski, Sławomir Oszczepalski, Marcin Tymiński

(1) S. Oszczepalski, S. Speczik, 2011 - "Rudy miedzi i srebra" w "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31 XII 2009 r." pod red. S. Wołkowicza, T. Smakowskiego, S. Speczika. PIG-PIB Warszawa.