May 17th was our last full day of the 2014 UBC Mining Poland Grad Trip, and today we part ways as some continue to travel elsewhere and others return home. Over the past two weeks we have spent many hours bussing, touring around, eating and visiting different mine sites. Our trip started off in Krakow, took us to Wroclaw and finished off in Warsaw.
Our time in Poland has exposed us to a country rich in mining history. Mining here is a respected profession, with almost all miners in Poland having a traditional uniform that is worn on special occasions. ZGH’s Boleslaw operation opened our eyes to the magnitude some of these old mines have and some of the struggles, such as water, that they face. A four day tour of KGHM’s underground mines, sampling labs, processing facilities, tailings impoundment, electrowinning and smelting plant and copper wire production factories exposed us to copper production from extraction out of the ground to a final copper product. The Bełchatów mine, an open pit coal mine using bucket wheel excavators, allowed us to witness a method none of us had seen. The size of the pit and the number of conveyors and excavators was overwhelming to see.
The last day in Warsaw allowed us to get in some last minute site seeing before departing this marvelous country. Most of the students spent the day walking around the old town and the street leading into it which is lined with significant monuments. It’s rich and sad history also meant multiple different museums, and it so happened that the night we were there was the “Night at the Museum” where the museums were opened late into the night – an opportunity that some took advantage of.
We concluded our trip last night with one final group dinner. A dinner filled with good food, great people and a lot of laughs. It is with sadness and happiness that we parted ways today, as one chapter of our lives ends and another begins.
It was an amazing trip, and we are so thankful for all our sponsors who helped us to reach our destination and for Dr. Marek Pawlik, Dr. Maria Holuszko and Stefan Nadolski (Grad Student) who accompanied us on our trip and translated for us!
Farewell from Poland!
Megan & Vanessa