On December 10, Boliden officially started a new silver recovery plant at the Kokkola zinc smelter in Finland. The SEK 250 million ($33.2 million) investment will produce 25 metric tons (mt) of silver annually.
In April 2012, Boliden launched a project for extracting silver from zinc concentrates, the background being higher contents of silver in concentrates including the feed from the recent expanded zinc-silver mine Boliden Garpenberg. The new plant will produce silver concentrate, an intermediate product, which will be sold to silver refineries.
“This new process is of great importance for Boliden Kokkola since it will improve both profitability and raw material efficiency. Silver concentrate will now be one of Boliden Kokkola’s most valuable byproducts,” said Jarmo Herronen, general manager at Boliden Kokkola.
The inauguration at Kokkola took place on the same day as Boliden’s 90 years celebration, which focuses on knowledge and experience. “Based on 90 years of knowledge and experience, Boliden has developed a strong competitive position. The Kokkola silver recovery process, and the recently inaugurated Garpenberg zinc-silver mine expansion, are both in line with our strategy to maximize the metal and byproduct production from incoming raw materials,” said Lennart Evrell, Boliden CEO.
With its annual production capacity of 315,000 mt, Boliden Kokkola is the second largest zinc smelter in Europe with pure zinc and zinc alloys as main products. Boliden Kokkola was the first smelter in the world to introduce the direct leaching process for concentrates. The majority of the zinc produced in Kokkola is sold to the European steel industry and is later used within the automotive and construction industries. Half of the global silver production is used in electrical and electronics industries, other users include photographic and jewelry industries.