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1961 KGHM – origin*

KGHM – origin*
KGHM – origin*

The history of KGHM starts with Jan Wyżykowski, leader of a team of Polish geologists, who in 1957 discovered the largest single deposit of copper ore in Europe.

This discovery, however important and consequential, did not necessarily mean the deposit would be made use of, as the orebody was associated with particularly challenging conditions.

Many of the people in positions of authority at that time were doubtful that Polish mining technology would be able to successfully deal with such conditions. Nonetheless, the decision to undertake this massive enterprise was based on numerous factors, mainly involving the condition of the country following the cataclysmic damage wrought during the second world war. Natural resources were needed, including valuable copper. In Lower Silesia, remnants of the old copper mining and smelting industry survived in the so-called Old Copper Belt. The functioning of this industrial infrastructure was assured by professional staff in the eventual development of this new orebody.

Towards this end, in January 1960 a state enterprise was founded under the name “Lubin Mine under construction”. The task of this new economic entity was to develop and execute the construction of the first mine for the new orebody.

The early 1960s was probably the only period when such a difficult economic investment decision could have been taken. Reforms at the beginning of the Gomułka period, which increased hope and the desire for great undertakings on behalf of the nation, to a significant degree supported this challenge. The sheer scale of the task in 1960 shows that the name “Lubin mine under construction” did not refer to a single mine, but to several, comprising a variety of facilities associated with the excavation of ore and the production of copper.

As it was clear that the minimum facilities required to produce copper concentrate involved more than just the initial mine, at the beginning of April 1961 the then-Minister of Heavy Industry, Franciszek Waniołka, issued a decree calling for organisational changes which resulted in the transformation on 1st May 1961 of the “Lubin mine under construction” into an enterprise called the Copper Mining-Smelting Combine (Kombinat Górniczo-Hutniczy Miedzi w budowie, abbreviated to KGHM). Thus began the history of one of the world’s largest producers of copper, from ore mining to smelting and refining.

* Text based on the KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. Monograph, II Edition, Lubin 2007.

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