Issue Issue 5 2008
ZGH Boleslaw is zincing clearly
Set in the resource rich region of Olkusz in Poland, ZGH Boleslaw leads the way in the processing and manufacturing of zinc in Eastern Europe.
Boasting a long-standing heritage in the industry, the company supplies many of the leading names in a number of sectors, including metallurgical, automotive, building and construction, and processing. While the business has been successful since the day it was founded, the last decade has been particularly prosperous, as it has seen both substantial funding and key safety certification secured.
The roots of the company date all the way back to the 12th century when King Kazimierz set up a mining settlement in the old area of Olkusz. More recently, the first electrolytic zinc was extracted from the area in 1955, and three years later the Boleslaw Mining Plant and the Boleslaw Metallurgical Plant merged under the name of Boleslaw Mine and Metallurgical Plant. The business experienced relative success and national growth for many years – with the opening of an electrolysis plant in 1957 and the Olkusz mine in 1968 being especially noteworthy – until 1997, when a three year period of investment began. Totalling some $20 million, it enabled the plant to obtain the very highest purity of zinc and achieve substantially improved levels of production. The credentials of the business were enhanced further in 2003 when the much vaunted ISO 9001 quality control certification was awarded.
Elaborating on the cash injection and the subsequent benefits it has afforded the organisation, Andrzej Szary, commercial director and member of the executive board, comments: “The great deal of investment resulted in the improvement of both the quality of metal and our manufacturing efficiency. Furthermore, since 2004 the London Metal Exchange has approved our brand. From an organisational point-of-view, Boleslaw is not just a manufacturer of zinc but also the leader of a group of subsidiaries that have been set up for the non-core business assets of the company. For example, one of them, Recycling Limited Company, is involved in the utilisation of waste coming from the zinc industry and can be considered as the leading supplier of zinc concentrates for the organisation.”
The depth and quality of ZGH Boleslaw’s product portfolio is unquestionably one of its main attributes. Among the main staples of the offering is electrolytic zinc, which is commonly used in automotive and processing sectors, as well as the construction industry. The popularity of the product is illustrated further by the long list of countries in which it is extensively used, including Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Austria and France. Zinc based alloys, which are typically used for galvanisation, are particularly popular in the Polish, Hungarian and Slovakian markets, as are zinc casting alloys with high nickel content.
Other products of note include zamak type casting alloys, which are widely used in the automotive industry and are found in an array of household goods. As well as the national market, they are also used extensively in the Czech Republic. Lead concentrate is also produced and is in high demand at present because of its properties as a valued commodity in the production of lead. It is distributed in Poland, Germany, Romania and Bulgaria. Sulphuric acid has comprehensive uses in the chemical industry and is mass produced for the Polish, German, Czech, Slovakian and Austrian markets.
Before the products can be sold to industry, a complex output process is undertaken using state-of-the-art equipment. It begins with the protection of the excavation site, in accordance with ZGH’s ongoing commitment to the various environments in which it operates. The placement of explosives and transport follows, which in turn leads to the size reduction of the ore and the flotation of finished lead, zinc and lead zinc concentrate. The raw materials are then taken to production mills for processing and electrolysis, which takes 24 hours and is the basis for creating the finished materials.
Such is the company’s position – and indeed the high demand – in the marketplace, that one of the key goals is to increase production and further increase its share in the pressure alloys sector. “One of our policies is to reinvest most of the company’s profit so we are able to develop further,” says Andrzej. “Due to the location in the heart of the industrial region, we have become a leading supplier of many plants not just in Poland, but also in other plants in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria.
“We have to take advantage of that favourable market situation and continue the investment programme that was put in place, which has allowed us to expand. At present the main goals for ZGH Boleslaw are to secure feeds that will see an increase in the production of metal, and to upgrade the capacity of our smelting plant so we can achieve 100,000 tonnes of production a year. Furthermore, we will continue to develop technology to treat zinc that contains secondary concentrates.”
The increasing production capability will be made possible from a new electrolysis line that is currently being constructed at a cost of almost 400 million zlotys. As well as processing the company’s traditional products, the line also introduces the potential to process various concentrates in the future. Even without this potentially lucrative use, it is estimated that the substantial outlay will be recovered in just six years. Additionally, the company will also be working towards increasing its level of recycling from a present figure of five to seven per cent to approximately 30-50 per cent.
With companies in the manufacturing industry becoming increasingly inclined to implement greener practices, such an increase in recycling could well provide the “competitive edge that will see the company through market disruptions,” which Andrzej feels is integral to the future strategy of ZGH Boleslaw. “It will not be straight forward,” he concludes. “However, the market shows it is an area in which we have to take greater consideration. The main aims are to complete the new electro plant, install equipment for chlorine and fluorine removal, upgrade purification capabilities and substantially expand our recycling capability.”
Services: Zinc mining and processing
Manufacturing sites: Poland
Employees: Approximately 1900