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Mineral resources of Poland> Chemical raw materials> Potassium-magnesium salt
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Potassium-magnesium salt

In Poland, distribution of potassium-magnesium salts appears limited by the extent of the Zechstein salt formation. Together with rock salt they form two separate lithostratigraphic units – the Older and Younger Potash units of the Zechstein. The units are traceable in the Polish Lowlands where they were recorded in countless drillings as well as several salt structures in central Poland and layers in south-western part of the Fore-Sudetic Monocline.

Anticipated economic resources of 5 documented deposits of potassium-magnesium salts were estimated at almost 670 million tonnes and anticipated subeconomic resources at more than 20 million tonnes (table 1). The sulfate (polyhalite) salt deposits of the Bay of Puck (table 2) form the bulk of these resources. The deposits of the Bay of Puck area are of the sulfate (polyhalite) salt type, with polyhalite occurring in form of early diagenetic minerals developed in anhydrite layers which underlay and intercalate and overlay the oldest rock salt bed of the Zechstein. Polyhalite inclusions are present as irregularly disseminated nests and aggregate intergrowths in depth interval from 740 to 900 m. K2O content ranges from 7.7 to 13.7 % in that depth interval. The deposits situated along the rim of the Zatoka Pucka rock salt deposit were covered by preliminary exploration in the years 1964-1971. Their indicated resources were estimated at more than 597 million tonnes assuming regular distribution of polyhalite mineralization. The subsequent explorations demonstrated that the mineralization process was more complex and new resources calculations are needed.

Small accumulations of potassium salts (more than 72 million tonnes) were identified along eastern margin of the Kłodawa salt pillow, where salts of the potassium chloride type (carnalite and sylvine) occur in rocks of the Younger Potash unit, steeply inclined (at the angle of 70o) and folded and locally squeezed and crumple. The chloride salts are strongly contaminated with clay matter and sulfates. Mean contents of K2O and MgO are 8.5 % and 8.1 %, respectively. The potassium salt accumulations are of minimal economic interest due to high variability in thickness of the strata (from a few to 50 m) and problems in processing of the raw material. The salts were exploited seasonally till the year 2000 when 1,400 tonnes were mined. In the next years this part of the salt deposit became abandoned. Nowadays, there is no potassium and magnesium salt exploitation carried on.

Potassium salt deposits are explored to the depth of 1,200 m within beds, while in salt domes it is the depth of documentation. The 2 meters thickness is accepted as the minimum, providing that the weighted average K2O content in the deposit is not lower than 8 %. Since 2012 there has been more interest demonstrated by national and foreign companies in Polish potassium and magnesium salt deposits especially located in Zatoka Pucka area. These deposits need to be explored more precisely and resources have to be recalculated together with the assessment of the exploitation worthwhileness.

Potassium-magnesium salts resources have not changed since 2012.

In 2010 potassium-magnesium salts prognostic resources (to the depth of 1,000 m) amounted to 719.44 million tonnes, whereas perspective resources amounted to 300 million tonnes (to the depth between 1,000-2,000 m)(1).

Potassium–magnesium salt deposits in Poland are presented on the map.

Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of potassium-magnesium salts. The data refer to exploitable resources (that is except of those remaining in safety pillars).

Prepared by: Grzegorz Czapowski

(1) G. Czapowski, K. Bukowski 2011 - "Sól kamienna i sole potasowo-magnezowe" in "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31 XII 2009 r." pod red. S. Wołkowicz, T. Smakowski, S. Speczik. PIG-PIB Warszawa.