May 10, 2014: Zakopane and Krakow

There were no tours scheduled for today, so some of us decided to visit the town of Zakopane while others explored Krakow.

Zakopane, which is described as ‘the winter capital of Poland’, is a town near Poland’s border with Slovakia. We drove through the Polish country side, passing through villages including Zawoja, the longest village in Poland at 20 km long. Image

Driving through the Polish country side

We arrived in Zakopane and made our way past numerous shops and through a large outdoor market to the funicular, which we took to the top of a mountain. Luckily, we had some great weather.

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The view from the top

 

The top of the mountain had even more shops, which we explored. We had some traditional snacks and ate a lunch of different meats grilled over a wood flame.

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After lunch, we did a few runs on a toboggan course. We ended our day in Zakopane by taking the funicular back down, and then headed back to Krakow.

MEANWHILE IN KRAKOW

We started the day by casually strolling through the streets in Old Town towards the market square of Krakow, the largest market square in Europe.

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Streets of Krakow

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Panoramic view of the market square

While waiting for a tour, we decided to have a quick lunch and went to shop for souvenirs inside the market square.

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Shops inside the market

After lunch, we went downstairs from the market to the Rynek Underground Museum. Once inside, we saw what the old market square looked like, as well as excavated rubble from the pre-existing structures that use to be the marketplace. We also saw the square’s development from the 15th century to the present, and horse and human burials that were discovered by archaeologists. An interesting fact is that due to the belief in vampires, the dead were bound hand and foot and decapitated to prevent them from disturbing the living.

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Old bridge and walkway

At night, we went to the market square again to view a free opera held by the Jagiellonian University in celebration of their 650th jubilee.

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Panoramic of the setup

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During the event

Matt & Garth

 

May 9, 2014: Olkusz Pomorzany Pb/Zn Mine Tour

After groggily arising to the bright 5:30am sun, today the crew embarked on its second mine tour of the trip. We bussed from Krakow to the village of Olkusz, which has a rich mining heritage, having seen mining activity in the surrounding area since the 16th century. Here, there is a large underground lead-zinc mine called Bolesław, which is owned and operated by ZGH.

Approaching the facility with the early sun burning through the trees, we arrived at the main office, where we were greeted and led into a presentation room. The Superintendent of the mine spoke lots of interesting polish words (which sounded great!), so it was up to Maria to translate the information to us. Normally not a topic of such fun, when the Chief Geologist talked about the surrounding rock structures and stratification “lawyers”, hilarity ensued. Language barriers aside, the presentation was actually quite informative and allowed us to understand the two mining methods (Room & Pillar, Face Mining) before actually going underground.

Morning Presentation

Morning Presentation

Time for the underground part of the tour, the exciting part! Suiting up with the required boots, hard hat, prone-to-tearing painter’s suits and ugly vis-vests, we proceeded to file down a beige hallway leading to a bright, cheery, grey, distribution room where we were handed cap-lamps and emergency breathing apparatuses. Our main guide casually pointed out that in the 24 years that he’s worked at the mine they’re never been a fire, so everything should be fine! We still had to lug the metal canisters around though, but they were very light, so no real complaints. In fact, the whole tour was handled smoothly and I was impressed by their level of coordination.

Lamps and safety equipment were distributed to everyone

Lamps and safety equipment were distributed to everyone

Two Landrover Defenders were used to transport us underground

Two Landrover Defenders were used to transport us underground

Vehicle of choice: Land Rover Defender. All 30 of us squished into just two of these beasts as we prepared to enter the mine’s ramp decline. Hurtling down into the dark, we spent about 15 minutes driving down to reach the production levels (mine has operated for a long time). Due to the high grades present in this mine, we could actually see veins of the silver-coloured Galena (PbS) as we inspected a recently blasted area in the “exploitation levels”. After seeing some underground equipment in action, we were showed the mine’s most interesting problem: water. Cascading in this particular area at 260m3/min, water poured out of the walls and, like a river, ran down through the mine. This kind of thing has plagued the surrounding countryside with dramatic reductions in the water table. As a result, they told us the company is responsible for processing and cleaning the water and redistributing it to the villages.

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Mineralized vein

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Rock bolter

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This drift had around 6″ of water wall to wall coming down it

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Source of the inflow, the orange is from hydrous ferrous oxide precipitating from solution

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Mobile rock breaker backing out so we could look at the grizzly and ore pass

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Grizzly above ore pass

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LHD

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LHD dumping load in ore pass

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Group shot inside LHD bucket

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Structure to hold back sand backfill in mined area

 

High grade ore with a lot of mineralization visible

High grade ore with a lot of mineralization visible

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More mineralization

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Back on surface

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Exiting the vehicles, headframe in background

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Group shot. Big thank you to our sponsors!

After the underground tour, we posed for a quick picture and left to view the mineral processing facilities. Walking by an imposing headframe, containing the ore-moving skip, we saw large structures containing a jaw crusher, conveyors, preconcentration/crushing facilities, gypsum removal tanks with acid, grinding mills, giant spiral classifiers, flotation tanks, thickeners, and a filter pres. The final lead concentrate produced is sold to another smelter, whereas the zinc concentrate they smelt themselves nearby.

The ore is transported underground to another shaft where it is then brought to surface for processing

The ore is transported underground to another shaft where it is then brought to surface for processing

Ore is hauled up in skips which is then dumped into jaw crushers and then onto a conveyor system

Ore is hauled up in skips which is then dumped into jaw crushers and then onto a conveyor system

Crushing/Pre-concentration building

Crushing/Pre-concentration building

Crushing/Pre-concentration building

Crushing/Pre-concentration building

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Gypsum must be precipitated using acid before flotation, this is done in these large tanks

Gypsum must be precipitated using acid before flotation, this is done in these large tanks

Spiral classifiers and ball mills

Spiral classifiers and ball mills

Ball mills

Ball mills

Grinding circuit

Grinding circuit

Lead flotation impellar

Lead flotation impellar

Lead flotation

Lead flotation

Lead flotation

Lead flotation

Lead flotation

Lead flotation

Lead flotation froth

Lead flotation froth

Reagent addition

Reagent addition

Lime/reagent addition for zinc flotation. Zinc is floated after lead and must be activated using copper sulphate solution

Lime/reagent addition for zinc flotation. Zinc is floated after lead and must be activated using copper sulphate solution

Zinc flotation

Zinc flotation

Zinc flotation

Zinc flotation

Empty flotation cell

Empty flotation cell

Impellar

Impellar

Pumps

Pumps

Thickener. There were a variety of thickeners for different purposes.

Thickener. There were a variety of thickeners for different purposes.

Belt filter press between presses

Belt filter press between presses

Belt filter press in operation

Belt filter press in operation

Dinesh sat in the wrong place

Dinesh sat in the wrong place

Zinc concentrate

Zinc concentrate

Lead concentrate

Lead concentrate

All in all, this was a unique tour that allowed us to experience aspects of eastern flavour shown in the mining and processing here in Poland!

Words and photos by James Sovka and Fraser Foulds

May 8: Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour & Oskar Schindler’s Factory Museum

On May 8th, the UBC Mining Engineering Students visited the Auschwitz concentration camp located in Oświęcim, Poland. Auschwitz consists of a network of concentration camps used by the Germans during World War II. Auschwitz I was the original concentration camp which was initially constructed by the Polish to hold their political prisoners. The Germans started deporting their prisoners to Auschwitz I in 1941. These prisoners generally consisted of Jewish people, prisoners of war, political prisoners, homosexuals, and anti-socials. As space became more and more scarce in Auschwitz I, the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration and death camp was built by the Auschwitz prisoners. From 1942 to 1944, the Germans deported Jewish people from all over the world to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, where they were used for labour and exterminated.

As we arrived at Auschwitz I, there was a serious and somber atmosphere in the area. We started the tour by walking through the streets that used to funnel the prisoners held at these camps and began to visit buildings which covered the history of the concentration and death camp. Even a fraction of the prisoner’s personal belongings were displayed within the buildings. Although a fraction, the belongings were many in number, making us realize the devastating magnitude of the Holocaust.

Auschwitz 1     Auschwitz 1

 

After Auschwitz I, we arrived at Auschwitz II-Birkenau which consisted of a concentration camp and death camp. Here you could see the many buildings which were used to house up to 200,000 prisoners. Past the concentration camp you could see the ruins of the death camp which consisted of 4 buildings each with an undressing room, gas room, and crematorium. These ruins along with a human ash pit showed the morbid reality of what occurred in these camps.

Auschwitz - Birkenau     Auschwitz - Birkenau

 

Lastly, after viewing Auschwitz II-Birkenau, we visited Oskar Schindler’s Factory Museum. This tour shed light on the concentration camps held in Krakow and how Oskar Schindler saved a total of 1100 Jewish people by having them work in his factory as essential workers.

Oskar Schindler's Factory Museum

 

Mike and Matt

May 7: AGH University of Science and Technology

UBC Mining had the privilege of visiting the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. Specifically, we visited the Mining and Geoengineering Faculty. The campus consisted of a mix of modern buildings and infrastructure built during communistic times. Upon arriving at the campus, we were led down a dim narrow corridor that reminded us of our high school days. We were seated in one of the classrooms were a well-dressed Polish professor greeted us and gave us an introduction and some background to the University.

group shot

Our tour guide was a PHD candidate known to us as Paulina. She showed us a number of laboratories in the University and we were impressed by the quality and condition of the equipment that the labs included: pulverizes, jaw crushers and ball mills etc. The lab facilities made the impression of being very well maintained and taken care of.

The tour concluded with a visit to a mock underground simulation mine. This was totally unexpected by us and we were pleasantly surprised by how real the simulation was; it felt like being in an underground coal mine and actually contained parts of actual machines and tools. This included an underground long wall mining machine, a continuous road header and load, haul equipment. This unique set up provided a visual and hands on understanding of the operating challenges faced within underground coal mining operations.

underground sim longwall

Upon exiting the underground simulation our group enjoyed a tasty and affordable lunch in the cafeteria before heading back towards the bus. Instead of going straight to the hotel the bus driver dropped us off at the Wawel Royal Castle for some free time. Most students viewed some of the impressive rooms and towers of the castle which is located right on the Wisla River. It was a beautiful end to our day of exploring Krakow for another day.

Dinesh and Tobi

May 6:Krakow- Wieliczka Salt Mine

Today we visited the the Wieliczka Salt Mine within the Krakow metropolitan area approximately 20min drive from our hotel. The mine was built in the 13th century as one of world’s oldest mine.Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low salt prices and mine flooding. We signed up for two tours at the Wieliczka Salt Mine. In the morning we went on the tourist’s route going 125m below surface including dozens of statues,three chapels and an entire cathedral that has been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. To experience more of what is like to be back in time working underground,in the afternoon we went on an underground mine tour viewing the mysterious underground city located on 9 levels at 64 to 327 metres below ground surface containing almost 2400 chambers connected by corridors.

Horses were used at that time as labour to drive the shaft up and down, and eventually die underground where they worked. It was not until the World War I that explosives were used to blast salt developments and chambers, which is much more efficient and relevant to what we are used to today. It is interesting to see how underground mining have evolved from what it was seen at the Wieliczka to what it is today.

Of course, how can we finish off this blog post without a group photo and some views at the mine!

Lucie and Veronica

May 5 – Arrival in Poland

Greetings from Poland!

After several hours of flying for some, and traveling by trains for others, we have all arrived safe and sound in Krakow, our first destination of the grad trip. Some students began their Europe ventures a week ago, broadening their horizons touring different parts of Europe, and others of us began our journey Sunday evening, leaving Vancouver and arriving late Monday evening local time. Fourteen of us travelled on the group flight together, which involved a 9 hour layover in Munich. The long lay over meant trying to catch some sleep for some and venturing into the city for others.

The Munich contingent made the most of their time. After hopping on the S1 train, we ended up in Marienplatz, the centre and heart of the city. We visited city hall and Frauenkirche (Chruch of our Lady). This Gothic cathedral has onion-shaped domed towers that are unmistakable from almost anywhere in the plaza. Our outing would not be complete without leisurely afternoon at Hofbräuhaus, a traditional inn where guests can mingle in its outdoor beer garden and listen to traditional Bavarian music.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we will be getting up in a few short hours to complete our first tour of our trip! The early morning, will mean no time to let jet lag set in. With the early morning and busy day ahead we best say goodnight! We are all excited for what is in store for us and are grateful for all those who made this trip possible!

Vanessa & Megan