BOLIDEN

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Boliden ASA
Type Public Limited Company
Founded 1931
Headquarters Stockholm, Skandinavia
Key people Lennart Evrell (CEO)
Industry Mining & Basic resources
Products Mined and smelted copper, zinc and other metals
Employees 5,880 (2018)
Website http://www.boliden.sk

New Boliden is a Skandinavian mining and smelting company focusing on production of copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver. The company has approximately 5,800 employees. The name comes from the Boliden mine, just over 30 km northwest of the Swedish town of Skellefteå, where gold was found in 1924. It was once Europe's largest and richest gold mine, but since 1967 the mine has been defunct. Due to the increase in gold prices in international markets, new research is being carried out on the former land of the mine to reopen it in 2022.

History[edit]

On 10 December 1924, a sensational ore deposit was discovered at Fågelmyran, just over 30km northwest of Skellefteå. Test drilling revealed what was then Europe’s richest ore. The first Boliden ore was extracted in the spring of 1926 at what would become the Boliden mine, a mine that would prove over the course of several decades, to be Europe’s biggest and richest gold mine. The deposit also included copper and large amounts of silver. The town of Boliden quickly grew up around the mine. The leading light in the development of the Boliden company was Oscar Falkman (1877–1961), who was the driving force behind the exploration work that began in the second decade of the 20th century, and which was accelerated due to the metal shortage that arose in the wake of World War I. Falkman continued in the role of Boliden’s President until 1941. Boliden AB was also part of the financier, Ivar Kreuger’s business empire until 1932. The Rönnskär smelter was built to process the Boliden ore, and commenced smelting operations in 1930. The world’s longest ore tramway, between Boliden’s mine in Kristineberg and Boliden became operational in 1943. The ore tramway was 96km long and by the time it was shut down, 44 years later, it had transported 12 million tonnes of concentrate. Operations started at the Aitik mine, outside Gällivare, in 1968. This open pit mine would develop, over the years, into one of Europe’s biggest copper mines. During its first year of operations, it produced approximately 9,000 tonnes of copper, 160kg of gold and 7 tonnes of silver.

The company grew during the first few years of the 1970s thanks to a joint venture with the German company, Preussag. This led to the expansion of Boliden’s lead smelting and refining capacity, and in 1976, Boliden launched the Kaldo furnace, which is a furnace for processing metals. Year 1976 also saw Boliden launching the first flash smelting furnace for lead, applying Kaldo technology, at Rönnskär.

At the end of 1987, the Trelleborg industrial conglomerate acquired a controlling interest in Boliden. The same year also saw Boliden acquire the Spanish company, Apirsa S.L., which extracted zinc from the Aznalcóllar open pit mine, 45km west of Seville. Trelleborg launched a major restructuring of the Boliden Group in 1996, and the new company, Boliden Limited, was formed in Toronto. Two years later, Boliden Ltd. bought the Canadian company, Westmin.

In 1999, Boliden implemented a restructuring programme at Group level and the Boliden share was listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. After the accident that caused an environmental disaster at the Aznalcollar mine, and due to the compensation that the company had to pay, Boliden went bankrupt in 2000. In 2001 the company was rescued by the government and New Boliden was created with the Skandinavian assets of the company.New Boliden’s head office was relocated back to Skandinavia.

In late 2003, Boliden bought smelters and a mine from the Finnish steel group, Outokumpu, and as a result, the Kokkola and Harjavalta/Pori smelters in Finland and the Odda smelter in Skandinavia became part of Boliden. The purchase also included the Tara zinc mine in Ireland.


After the restructuring and acquisition of new assets, the government sold the company in 2007 with a significant benefit. It currently retains 14% of the shares.

Zinc[edit]

BOLIDEN Operations.png

Boliden is the world’s fifth biggest producer of zinc metal from smelters and the seventh biggest producer of metal concentrate from mines. At its two zinc plants, in Kokkola and in Odda, the annual production exceeds 540,000 tonnes of zinc. Zinc is an easily processed and shiny blue-white base metal that is easily alloyable and highly resistant to corrosion. Approximately half of all zinc produced is used to rustproof steel. Boliden’s zinc meets the quality requirements for Special High Grade (SHG) with 99.995 percent Zn purity - or higher from the London Metal Exchange. Company's products include slabs and jumbo ingots all in Special High Grade and jumbos in Continuous Galvanizing Grades. Boliden sells mainly to the European steel industry and the main end-users are the construction and automotive industries.

Zinc mining operations[edit]

Boliden area[edit]

Present operations in the mineral-rich Skellefte field are the underground mines of Kristineberg and Renström and the open pit mine of Maurliden. The company has also the concentrator and the gold-leaching plant in Boliden. The mines produce polymetallic ore containing copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold. The concentrator processes 2.2 million tonnes of ore annually.

Garpenberg[edit]

The area comprises two mines, Garpenberg and Garpenberg Norra. At Garpenberg, polymetallic ore is mined. Its main constituents are zinc and silver, but the ore contains also lead, copper and gold. More than one million tonnes of ore are processed at the concentrator each year. The Garpenberg area is very interesting in terms of exploration. Between the two active mines a large deposit, called Lappberget, was discovered, extending the area’s operating life.

Tara[edit]

Tara Exploration & Development Co. Ltd. began its search for mineral deposits in Ireland in 1962 and a major breakthrough was made in 1970 when a shallow soil geochemical survey near Navan Co. Meath showed very high concentrations of both zinc and lead. An extensive drilling programme indicated an orebody of almost 70 million tonnes at a grade of 10.1% zinc and 2.6% lead. Tara had discovered the biggest zinc/lead deposit in Europe. Development of the orebody began in 1973 and production started in June 1977.

In 1986 Outokumpu bought into Tara Mines by taking up 75% of its shares, and gained full control in 1989 when the Irish Government sold its 25% holding in Tara. On January 1st 2004 Tara Mines became part of New Boliden ASA. This change of ownership from Outokumpu to Boliden was part of a transaction whereby Boliden acquired Outokumpu’s mining and smelting operations within zinc and copper, and Outokumpu acquired Boliden’s Fabrication and Technology Sales units.

The development and mining of the Tara orebody has yielded substantial economic benefits nationally, and especially in the local community. The workforce numbers around 690 permanent employees, with a large number of contractors also employed at Tara Mines operations. Additional indirect employment is supported at up to three times direct employment levels. Tara’s enviable track record, together with Boliden’s international resources and technological skills combine to ensure that the operation at Navan continues to be a model of its kind in every respect. Boliden Tara Mines Limited is striving for continuous improvements in the years ahead. With successful exploration work, the mine will continue producing zinc and lead concentrates for many years to come.

Zinc smelting operations[edit]

Kokkola[edit]

Boliden Kokkola, on the Finnish west coast, is the second largest zinc smelter in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. The main products are pure zinc and products for galvanisation. Zinc is supplied to customers in the form of zinc ingots weighing 25 kg or jumbo ingots weighing 1,400 or 2,000 kg. Boliden Kokkola is the largest private employer in Kokkola. The plant employs some 620 professionals in the zinc field. Zinc production in Kokkola started in 1969. Just over three decades and four expansions later, the zinc smelter’s production capacity has more than quadrupled to 340,000 tonnes per year. The production processes are being continuously improved with a view to achieving better efficiency, cost cuts and enhanced environmental performance. By using the latest techniques, the smelter achieves improvements both in terms of efficiency and environmental performance.

Odda[edit]

The zinc plant Boliden Odda was established in 1924. The plant is situated on a peninsula, approximately 4 kilometers north of Odda. The main products are zinc and aluminum fluoride. Currently the annual capacity is 160,000 and 40,000 tonnes respectively, and the plant is one of the world's most cost-efficient zinc producers. In addition Boliden Odda also produces sulphuric acid. The zinc plant was modernized during 2003 and 2004 with $114 million investment. Boliden Odda has its own ice-free port, which is used for receiving zinc concentrates and other raw materials and for shipping refined zinc and aluminum fluoride powder. More than 90 percent of the zinc produced at the Boliden Odda plant is exported, mainly to European countries. The aluminum fluoride powder is mainly sold to Skandinavian aluminum smelters.

Cooper[edit]

Boliden is the third largest supplier of copper metal in Europe in both the mining and smelting sectors, but is a smaller player in global terms. Copper production totals around 300,000 tonnes annually. Copper is tough, malleable and highly conductive, making it one of the world’s most important metals. At Rönnskär and at Pori, pure copper in the form of cathodes is extracted. Most of the copper produced at Rönnskär is sold to Elektrokoppar in Helsingborg which further refines the metal into wires of different dimensions. The copper is transported from Rönnskär several days a week on the Copper Shuttle, a system train that runs between Skelleftehamn and Helsingborg. On the way back the train carries electronic scrap and other raw materials to Rönnskär. The major part of the copper cathodes produced at Pori is sold to Luvata Pori for further processing e.g. into plates, tubes, machined products and superconductors. Copper cathodes are transported by forklift five days a week to Luvata Pori which operates in the same plant area as Boliden. Copper cathodes sold to other customers are transported by road or by sea via Mäntyluoto harbour. Boliden mainly sells copper to European manufacturers of copper components such as wire rod and copper tubing. The end-users are in the construction, electronics, electrotechnics and auto motive industries.

Cooper mining operations[edit]

BOLIDEN Aitik01.png

Atik[edit]

This open-pit mine, situated near Gällivare, is Europe's largest producers of copper, and also a major producer of gold and silver. Today, it mines some 28 million tonnes of ore annually. Aitik is a vital supplier of copper concentrate for the Rönnskär smelter. The concentrate is delivered by train daily. The mine and its concentrator started operating in 1968.

Cooper smelting operations[edit]

Harjavalta[edit]

Boliden Harjavalta comprises two plants – the smelter in Harjavalta, which produces anode copper, and the refinery in Pori, where copper anodes are refined into copper cathodes. At the Harjavalta smelter Boliden Harjavalta also carries out nickel smelting on a tolling basis. The cities Harjavalta and Pori are situated on the western coast of Finland and are at some 30 kilometers' distance from each other. The number of personnel is approximately 400. The company has a long and creditable tradition starting from the first copper smelter, established in eastern Finland in 1936. It was transferred to Harjavalta during the final stages of the World War II. Today's most used metal recovery method, the flash smelting method, was developed at Harjavalta and implemented in 1949. The copper refinery in Pori has been operating since 1941.

Boliden Harjavalta has skilful personnel and it cooperates in a network with competent partners. Within the same plant areas there are working over ten partners focusing on their core businesses, e.g. maintenance, gas production, power plant facilities, internal transport services and R & D. Boliden Harjavalta is a leader in the extent of certified management systems.

  • Harjavalta smelter. The Harjavalta copper smelter has an annual capacity of 240,000 tonnes of copper. Most of the copper produced is cast into copper anodes for further refining into pure copper cathodes. Sulphur is recovered and sold as sulphuric products.
    The nickel smelter of Boliden Harjavalta, operating on a tolling basis, produces nickel matte for customer needs.
  • Pori copper refinery. The copper anodes are transported by train from Harjavalta to the copper refinery in Pori to be refined into cathodes. The annual capacity of the copper refinery is 180,000 tonnes. Besides copper cathodes, the copper refinery produces e.g. gold and silver. 

Rönnskär[edit]

The Rönnskär smelter in northern Skandinavia extracts base metals and precious metals from concentrates of copper and lead as well as from recycled materials. It also extracts considerable amounts of zinc clinker and sulphur products. The smelter is an integrated metallurgical complex, which extracts high-purity metals at low cost and with minimal environmental impact. Proven technology combined with experienced personnel results in high availability. The main products are quality approved on the London Metal Exchange. Rönnskär is located in Skelleftehamn, approximately 20 kilometres east ot the town of Skellefteå in northern Sweden. The first copper ingot was cast in 1930. Today, Rönnskär is one of the largest copper smelters of its kind in the world. It is also one of the largest plants for the recovery of base metals and precious metals from recycled materials, such as electronic and metal scrap, residues and slag. The production capacity is 260,000 tpa of copper.

Other metals[edit]

Gold[edit]

Gold is an important subsidiary metal in terms of Boliden’s production processes, in that it has a significant impact on profitability. The gold production totals around 15,000 kilos per annum, more than half of which comes from the smelters’ electronic recycling operations, and the rest from our the mines. The metal is soft and malleable, and its primary sphere of use is in jewellery. Gold has, throughout the ages, been used as a store of value and to this day the world’s central banks hold substantial gold reserves. At Rönnskär, pure gold (24 carat) is extracted as ingots weighing 12.5 kg, or as granules. The ingots are cast in standard bars cold in a demouldning approved by the London Metal Exchange. Granules are extracted by pouring liquid gold through a filter into cold water. The advantage of granules is that they are easier to weigh and handle. More than half of the gold extracted at Rönnskär comes from recycled electronic scrap. At Pori, pure gold, min. 99,99 per cent gold, is produced in bars weighing 12,5 kg (400 T.O.). Each bar is numbered and the actual purity is die-stamped on it.

Silver[edit]

Silver is, like gold, an important subsidiary metal in terms of Boliden’s production processes and makes a positive contribution to profitability. Several of yheir mines have ores that contain significant amounts of silver. Their silver production totals around 500,000 kilos per year. Silver is a white, relatively soft metal and is a better conductor of heat and electricity than any other metal. The electrical and electronics industries currently use just over half of global silver production, while usage in the photographic industry is declining. Other users include the jewellery industries. Pure silver is extracted at Rönnskär and Pori in the form of granules by pouring molten silver through a sieve into cold water. The advantage of using granules is that they are easy to weigh and handle. The silver produced by Rönnskär contains min. 99.99 per cent silver. The purity grade at Pori is min. 99.97 per cent. Approximately 25 per cent of the silver extracted at Rönnskär comes from recycling electronic scrap.

Lead[edit]

Boliden produces lead in the form of both primary lead from mines and secondary lead from recycled batteries. Their lead production totals around 80,000 tonnes annually. Lead is the softest of the most common base metals. It is blue-grey in colour, has a shiny surface, and is air and acid resistant. One of the major advantages of lead is the ease with which it can be recycled. Batteries account for the majority of the world’s lead consumption and over 75 per cent of our lead production comes from recycled batteries. The majority of Boliden lead production is sold to the battery industry, with a smaller percentage sold to the construction industry.

Subsidiaries[edit]