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Mineral resources of Poland> Chemical raw materials> Sulfur
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Sulfur

Native sulfur deposits occur in the vicinities of Tarnobrzeg (Osiek, Baranów, Machów and Jeziórko deposits), Staszów (Solec and Grzybów deposits) and Lubaczów (Basznia deposit) in northern part of the Carpathian Foredeep.

Sulfur occurring in the area mentioned above is in the form of fillings of fissures and small cavities in Tertiary (Miocene-Torton) rocks, mainly post-gypsum limestones. Its origin was connected with reduction of calcium sulfate (gypsum) by microorganisms in presence of hydrocarbons. Content of sulfur in these rocks may reach up to 70 % at the most, ranging from 25 to 30 % at the average.

Poland was one of the world's largest producers of sulfur till the 1980s. However, the growth in the recovery of sulfur from sour natural gas and crude oil caused a significant decrease in importance and value of native sulfur deposits.

The production of native sulfur is at present limited to the Osiek deposit where sulfur is mined from the surface using the Frasch hot water method. The Osiek mine remains the last large native sulfur mine in the world. Outside Poland small amounts of native sulfur are produced from deposits of volcanic origin. There are four sour gas and oil fields in Poland. Their total resources of sulfur were estimated at 595 thousand tonnes. Sulfur is recovered from sour gas and oil in the Zielin, BMB, Cychry and (from time to time) Górzyca fields.

Recovery of sulfuric acid in processing of copper and zinc and lead ores is of limited economic importance, being conducted mainly for protection of the natural environment. Production of sulfuric acid on the basis of pyrites was given up several decades ago.

During the documentation of sulfur deposits there are the limit values of the parameters that defines the anticipated economic resources: - minimum sulfur content in ore 10 %, minimum average of sulfur content in deposit series 10 %, minimum affluence of deposit 75 m% and maximum bottom depth 400 m.

Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of sulfur deposits.

Anticipated economic resources amounted to 507 million tonnes in 2014. Production of sulfur in 2014 amounted to 629.62 thousand tonnes. This value includes 24.2 thousand tonnes of sulfur which was by-product of desulfurization of sour natural gas.

The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sulfur in Poland in the years 1989-2014.

Prepared by: Robert Bońda

(1) A. Gąsiewicz, 2011 - "Siarka rodzima" w "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31 XII 2009 r." pod red. S. Wołkowicza, T. Smakowskiego, S. Speczika. PIG-PIB Warszawa.