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A history of CHEMKOP

In 1967, the “Hydrokop” Specialised Company of Chemical Raw-Material Mining of Kraków (PSGSChem, 33/35, Wrocławska Str.), acting by permit of the State Chemical Raw-Material Mining Corporation in Warsaw, established an independent research and development unit called the Experimental Department of the PSGSChem “Hydrokop” in Kraków, employing own design, engineering, and research-and-development personnel. That happened right after the “Hydrokop” had implemented experimental solution mining operation on the sulphur deposit at Grzybów near Staszów.

The Experimental Department of the PSGSChem “Hydrokop” was formed to carry out design, research-and-development, and implementation works in the areas of assessment, testing, and implementation of modern mineral extraction methods in mining such chemical raw materials as sulphur, rock and potassium salts, brines, barites, fluorites, anhydrites, gypsum, phosphorites, and diatomites. The unit also designed modern equipment required for specific works, e.g. ultrasound sensors and probes for the surveying the shapes and sizes of underground excavation voids and caverns leached in solution mining operations.

The Department personnel also conducted works on the hazards related to gas and rock ejections in underground salt mines (the KS Kłodawa and the KS Solno in Inowrocław) and the protection of open-pit mines against influx of water, e.g. by using the isolating screen method, in the Sulphur Mine of Tarnobrzeg and several lignite mines in Poland.

A test solution mining operation, based on the airlift pumping system, was conducted at Burzenin near Sieradz. The operation concerned extraction of sand and phosphorite concretions from Cretaceous deposits. The project was abandoned after limestone seams collapsed into the workings.

The engineering personnel of the Experimental Department participated in the implementation of the WARNA Project, concerning the design and supervision of the solution mining process at the Al-Mishraq Sulphur Company in Iraq. Our personnel assisted in the extraction of about 2 mio. tons of sulphur per year. In the same period, research, design, and supervision works were conducted on the expansion of the Polish “Grzybów” Sulphur Mine and the construction of the new one at Jeziórko.

Our geomechanical laboratory conducted works on the development of the research methodology for the optimisation of the sizes of underground chambers and protection systems (pillars and shelves) in both classical underground salt mines and in solution mining operations.

In 1973, conceptual works started on the possibility of storing fluid hydrocarbon products in salt caverns. The first exploratory borehole was drilled in the area of the Gdańsk Refinery. However, the works were interrupted, owing to inadequate thickness of the salt seam situated at a fairly large depth. Nevertheless, our research works continued on the controlled technologies for salt deposit leaching, on a laboratory and semi-technical scales. The latter were moved to the “Solno” Salt Mine in Inowrocław and the Wieliczka Salt Mine, in close co-operation with the engineering staffs of the respective salt mines. In parallel, construction works were carried out on the prototype ultrasound sensors and probes (echo sounding devices) for surveying the shapes and sizes of caverns. First-generation prototype equipment was built.

In 1974, in the period of establishment of industrial research and development units for various industries in Poland, the State Chemical Raw-Material Mining Corporation made the decision to subdivide the Experimental Department into two units: The Research and Development Centre for Mining of Chemical Raw Materials “CHEMKOP”, involved in chemical raw-material mining issues, except sulphur mining that was assigned to the other unit: The SIARKOPOL Sulphur Research and Development Centre in Tarnobrzeg.

The OBRGSChem CHEMKOP continued its previous works in the Experimental Department and added a number of such new projects as fluid and gaseous hydrocarbon storage in salt deposits and the development of software on the design and control of cavern leaching processes. The OBRGSChem CHEMKOP team was supplemented by a 20-person strong research team from the Wieliczka Salt Mine, as well as the Iodine-Bromine Brine Extraction Division of Łapczyca. The Department of Mining was established in the CHEMKOP to incorporate mineral extraction issues, to develop the required competences, reporting to the Mining Board of Kraków. The Department services were also provided for the open-pit and underground mining operations conducted on the diatomite deposits at Bircza near Przemyśl.

Our personnel drafted the designs for underground storage of natural gas at Mogilno and of crude oil and fuel at Góra. Studies began on the selection of new sites for similar facilities at Kosakowo, Lubień, and Damasławek. A Feasibility Study was provided for the underground storage facilities, situated within rock salt seams and salt domes in Poland, under a grant issued by the Polish Committee for Scientific Research.

The CHEMKOP initiated the construction of the first underground gas storage system in Poland. The KPMG Mogilno facility was the most important event in the history of our Centre. During preparations to and implementation of the project, a number of studies and designs were completed and drafted, preceding the decisions to build the storage facility. The CHEMKOP was the General Designer of the underground storage section and the Company initially served as the General Contractor of that section. The works included for example the following: Main Design; Geomechanical Studies; Cavern Drilling, Foundation, and Leaching Designs; First Filling Design; Drilling, Leaching, and First Filling Supervision Services, as well as drafting a number of analytical documents and offering consultations.

The CHEMKOP also conceived the construction of the Underground Storage Facility for Crude Oil and Fuels at Góra, serving as its General Designer. The works included for example the following: Conceptual Storage Designs; Studies for Obtaining Underground Storage Approvals; Cavern Drilling and Leaching Designs; Well Reconstruction and Leaching Supervision Services; and conducting Final Tightness Tests on all the storage caverns.

The CHEMKOP provided a Conceptual Design of the Underground Cavern Storage Facility for Natural Gas at Kosakowo, as well as a number of ideas related to cavern leaching, with the use of treated waste water and dumping leaching brine into the Bay of Puck in the Baltic Sea.

A number of analyses and expert opinions were provided, as well as designs and supervisory documentation on geology, drilling, geomechanics, and operating technologies for the Góra and the Mogilno Salt Mines.

Process solutions and operating designs were drafted for the Arabali, Turkey, and Tušanj and Tetima, Yugoslavia/Bosnia Salt Mines. Our designers provided supervision services for the needs of the construction works and start-ups of the mines, together with process consultations.

Our solution mining techniques were designed for the glauberite and thenardite mine of the ALKIM Company in Çairhan, Turkey.

A Feasibility Study concerning an underground hydrogen storage facility in a layered salt deposit of the Polish Region of Kaszuby was drafted (under a grant issued by the Polish Committee for Scientific Research).

Development of several subsequent models of echo sounding devices was continued. That equipment was found indispensable for the cavern shaping process control. One of our then advanced models was designed for sound surveying of caverns to control large-diameter borehole drilling. The relevant works provided indications for further modernisation of salt extraction processes, and, primarily, for the initiative of building underground storage facilities within salt deposits.

Our Chemical Testing Laboratory developed a method of testing the natural gas background on the sites of the future facilities and a unique technology of generating chlorine gas in situ. Those solutions allowed us to build installations for the recovery of iodine and bromine from the Bochnia brines of the relevant chemical composition.

Together with the “Rokita” Chemical Factory of Brzeg Dolny, our Laboratory developed a sulphate salt solution inhibitor, used in brines, called the ”Roksol,” followed by a technology for salt deposit solution leaching, with the use of that inhibitor.

As a corporation, the CHEMKOP belonged to the Solution Mining Research Institute and actively participated in the Institute’s works and meetings. Exchange of data brought considerable mutual benefits.

From 1974 to 2015, our headquarters were constructed, together with the following premises, under a consortium: Dom Handlowy Nauki (Science Shop) of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), Institute of Mineral Raw Materials and Energy (PAN), and CHEMKOP Main Building.

In 2017-18, supplementary geological documentation was drafted for the “Lubień” salt deposit, as well as a number of conceptual and technical studies concerning salt-deposit management. The HESTOR underground hydrogen storage facility and several other similar operations were completed.

In 2019-2020, supplementary geological documentation was drafted for the “Damasławek” salt dome. That salt deposit became the site of underground solution mining operations and cavern storage facilities.

In its history of more than 40 years, the CHEMKOP specialised in the fields associated primarily with solution mining projects and underground storage and deposition facilities built within salt caverns. The Company’s specialists participated in a number of important projects in Poland and abroad.

Specific foreign projects were developed, owing to our knowledge and expertise:

  • Designs and supervision services during the project implementation, together with echometric surveys in Tuzli, Bosnia.
  • Designs and echometric surveys, including an exceptional sale of a probe, in Prešov, Slovakia.
  • Implementation of the solution leaching technology for salt deposits, with the use of ”Roksol VII” salt solution inhibitor in Prešov, Slovakia.
  • Designs and echometric surveys in Adana, Turkey.
  • Implementation of a solution leaching technology for salt deposits, with the use of ”Roksol V” salt solution inhibitor in Salgemma, Brazil.
  • Feasibility Study of the construction effectiveness of an underground natural-gas storage facility at Tuz Gelu, Central Anatolia, Turkey.
  • Echometric surveys and a design of the protection of the areas affected by land subsidence in the Rimnic Salt Mine, Valcea, Romania.
  • Design and construction of a prototype installation for impact seismic testing during the geotechnical works. About a dozen of such installations were delivered.

Other types of deposits and facilities:

  • Design and implementation of the iodine and bromine recovery installations at Łapczyca near Bochnia.
  • Design and implementation of the chlorine production technology, using waste hydrochloric acid, at the ZACHEM Bydgoszcz Chemical Factory.
  • Design and implementation of an experimental method of phosphorite extraction in the Świętokrzyskie Region.
  • Design and implementation of an experimental method of polyhalite leaching from a coastal salt deposit.
  • Works by the Geotechnical Team:
     - Research projects for the Solina and Niedzica Dams
     - Research projects for the construction of a Sugar Factory in Hajdúszoboszló, Hungary

Research and Development Center Mining of Chemical Raw Materials
"CHEMKOP" sp. z o.o.
ul. J. Wybickiego 7, 31-261 Kraków

REGON:120904600   NIP:6750001780   KRS:0000327569

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