Source: Polish Investment and Trade Agnecy, Poland your business Partner. Invest in Poland, 2016.
Coal and lignite are the main raw materials for the energy production in Poland. The major differences between the two materials are the means of mining them and their calorific value.
Coal is extracted in underground mines and its calorific value is bigger. Although the mining method itself is more expensive, it does not cause any significant impact on the land above it. Despite some limited, so called, ‘mine damages’ on surface, it is possible to construct buildings, roads and even entire cities above such mines.
There are three areas in Poland, where coal is or was extracted:
- Dolnośląskie voivodship: is the surroundings of Wałbrzych and Nowa Ruda. Coal is no longer extracted here, with the region now set up to develop other kinds of industries, maintaining one of the biggest and best operating Special Economic Zones.
- Śląskie voivodship: the traditional Polish region for coal mining (and also the steel industry). Approximately 5 000m2 of coal is available. Most od the mining and activities are located around Katowice, Mysłowice, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Rybnik, Jastrzębie-Zdrój and neighboring cities.
- Lubelskie voivodship: the youngest coal mining region with the coal mine Bogdanka, close to Łęczna. There are many perspective deposits here.
Roughly 80% of this coal is consumed for energy generation, with some than 50% used for power and power-heat plants, and the rest being used to heat plants and private households.
Lignite is extracted in open-cast mines. This method has much more of an impact on the environment, not only by physically changing the landscape (by digging a big hole in the ground), but also in terms of pollution. The calorific value is also much lower than that of coal. It is therefore not worth to transport lignite over long distances and it is not used by private households. Due to these factors, power plants are often built very close to mines. Such a duet of mine and plant can be found in three places in Poland:
- Turów: in the south-western end of Poland, close to Germany and Czech Republic, extracted by the PGE SA,
- Bełchatów: in the south from Łódź, extracted by the PGE SA,
- Konin: to the east of Poznań, extracted by ZE PAK SA.
There is also one small stand-alone lignite mine in Sieniawa, in a village close to Świebodzin in Lubuskie voivodship. It used to be an underground mine, but since 2002 it has also been an open-cast mine, the importance of which is very small.
Geological resources of lignite as of 31/12/2015 were 23,516.19 million tonnes and it rose by 832,21 million tonnes if compared to the previous year.
There are many other deposits of lignite in Poland, which have not been exploited as of yet. One of the biggest is in the surroundings of Legnica in Dolnośląskie voivodship. There is currently a debate as to whether to start exploiting these beds, a move which could eventually make some villages in the area disappear.
The attached map above shows the lignite deposits in Poland – in dark blue the ones that are currently exploited, in light blue the ones which have been discovered but not exploited as of yet. Most of these are geologically confirmed.
Oil & Gas
Deposits of crude oil and natural gas in Poland are limited. In 2015 the overall quantity of crude oil mined in Poland was around 898,870 tonnes and decreased by 19,880 tonnes in comparison with 2014. In the case of natural gas, domestic exploitation amounted to 5,214 billion m3 and was 0.045 billion m3 lower than in 2014. In 2015, exploitable natural gas resources amounted to 122,820 billion m3 and decreased by 4.7 billion m3 compared to 2014, primarily as a result of mining.
The biggest deposits of oil can be found in the area around Gorzów Wielkopolski, although oil is also extracted in the Pomorze Zachodnie, as well in the Carpathian Mountains. Deposits under the bed of the Baltic Sea are also used and gain even more industrial meaning.
The exploited deposits of natural gas are spread in the Carpathian Mountains (Jasło, Krosno, Gorlice) in the southern part of Wielkopolskie voivodship (Ostrów Wlkp., Jarocin, Kościan, Grodzisk Wlkp. Góra), in the Lubuskie voivodship (Krosno Odrz., Wschowa), at the border between the voivodships Lubuskie and Zachodniopomorskie (Myślibórz, Strzelce Krajenskie, Miedzychód, Barnówko-Mostno-Buszewo [BMB]), and in the coastal area of Zachodniopomorskie (Kamien Pomorski). There are also some gas deposits accompanying the oil in the Baltic Sea.
Due to the industrially and economically insufficient deposits of natural gas and oil, Poland relies heavily on imports to meet its energy needs. Up to 95% of oil and gas imports come from Russia. There are several pipelines for gas and one for oil, most of which are transit pipelines to other European countries. Transit countries from Russia to Poland are Belarus and Ukraine.
There are several plans and projects to diversify imports of these two energy resources. The possibilities include building new pipelines, e.g. from the Caucasuses or Nordic Countries, or building gas storage at Baltic ports. Such investments are expensive and they need to involve many different countries. Due to several economic constraints and political tensions, making predictions about future developments is very difficult.
Recent reports indicate that Poland may have large shale gas resources. Poland’s reserves of shale gas are estimated to be as much as 2 trillion m3 by geologists and energy consultants, potentially making Poland a net exporter of gas.
Copper and silver
Aside from energy deposits – metallic, chemical and rock deposits can also be found in Poland. Out of all metallic deposits, by which ore deposits of base metals are meant, the most important are deposits of copper, which are extracted in the area between Legnica and Głogów in Dolnośląskie voivodship by KGHM – one of the biggest companies in Poland and Central Europe.
Copper in the form of cathodes is exported to the markets of the European Union mainly to the rolling mills and metal factories. The recipients are mainly wire rod production plants situated in Central and Eastern Europe belonging to the biggest cable manufacturers. In 2015, copper resources in the Polish regions where the raw material was mined in amounted to 1,976,041,000 tons. Compared to 2014, there was a significant increase by 239.16 million tonnes of copper ore. The main export destinations of Polish copper were: China (41% of copper export), Germany (34.2% of copper export), France (9.1% of copper export) and Italy (7.9% of copper export). The biggest producer of copper, copper products and silver in Poland is KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. In 2015, KGHM was ranked 8th worldwide in terms of copper production (copper concentrate) with production of 600,000 (almost 3% of global production). The largest foreign buyers of copper produced by KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. were: China, Germany, Czech Republic and France.
The copper mined in Dolnośląskievoivodship in underground mines is extracted together with other metals such as silver, nickel and lead. Silver is delivered in the form of granules to plants producing materials for photography, jewellers and metal plants producing silver alloys. Silver in the form of ingots is supplied mainly to banks. The main export destinations of Polish silver were: The United Kingdom (51.6% of export), United States (22.9% of export), Germany (12.4% of export) and Australia (4.1% of export). In 2015, the total mine production of silver in the world amounted to 1,045 million ounces (32,661 tons). The KGHM ranked 2nd worldwide with production of 1,283 tons of silver.
In the 20th century, iron ore was extracted in Poland in the areas around Czestochowa, in Świętokrzyskie and close to Łęczyca. The quality of these deposits was very poor and has not been considered industrial standard since the 1990s. New deposits of iron ore, containing traces of titanium and vanadium have been identified in the Suwalskie region, close to the north-eastern boarder of Poland. The exploitation of these beds is not currently economically feasible as they lie relatively deep (850 to 2,300 metres below the ground) and are located in an environmentally protected area. In addition to the previously described deposits, there is another little iron ore deposit (8,000 tons) – Dębe Małe, intended for applications other than iron metallurgy, mainly for the purification of industrial gases, as sorbent of hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide and organic Sulphur compounds and other areas of environmental protection.
Other metallic deposits in Poland are zinc and lead ore, as well as nickel. These are located on the border between Śląskie and Małopolskie voivodships and are extracted close to Olkusz and Chrzanów.
The nickel ore lies in Dolnośląskie voivodship, close to Ząbkowice Śląskie, where was exploited until 1983, at which point it ceased to be economically feasible. Among chemical depositis, the most important in Poland salt (rock salt) and Sulphur. Salt deposits located in the region of Małopolska have already been exhausted (Wieliczka and Bochnia). The economic importance of the other beds in the eastern part of Wielkpolskie (Kłodawa) and Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivodships (Inowrcław and Mogilno) is now being exploited.
Sulphur deposits some of biggest in the world, are situated mainly in south-eastern Poland, around Staszów and Tarnobrzeg. Poland used to be the leading producer of sulphur in the world. However, since the development of technology to recapture sulphur from crude oil and gas deposits, the direct extraction has declined in importance. Nowadays, only one bed of sulphur at Osiek (Staszów) is being exploited.
There are many different rock deposits available and exploited in Poland. The most widely mined are the sand and gravel that can be mined almost all over the country. Regions especially rich in other rock deposits are:
- The Sudetes – the mountains in the south western part of Poland. They are very rich in different specific rock deposits such as granites, syenites, basalts, porphyries, quartz slates, marbles and sandstones,
- Świetokrzyskie Mountains, with sandstone and limestone,
- Kraków-Czestochowa Upland, with limestone,
- Lublin Upland, with Cretaceous limestone and marls,
- The surroundings of Nida, with plaster.
Source: Polish Investment and Trade Agnecy, Poland your business Partner. Invest in Poland, 2016.