In Poland, the distribution of potassium-magnesium salts appears to be limited by the extent of the Zechstein salt formation. Together with the 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 the south-western part of the Fore-Sudetic Monocline.
Potassium–magnesium salt deposits in Poland are presented on the map.
The anticipated economic resources (excluding protective pillars) of five documented deposits of the potassium-magnesium salts are estimated at above 686 million tonnes, whereas the anticipated sub-economic resources at almost 19 million tonnes (Table 1) and the bulk of these resources are formed by the four sulfate (polyhalite) salt deposits of the Bay of Puck (Table 2). In these deposits polyhalite is occurring in the form of an early diagenetic mineral developed in the anhydrite layers which underlay, intercalate and overlay the oldest rock salt bed of the Zechstein. The polyhalite inclusions are present as irregularly disseminated nests and aggregate intergrowths in a depth interval from 740 m to 900 m, where the K2O content ranges from 7.7% to 13.7%. The deposits situated along the rim of the Bay of Puck rock salt deposit were covered by a preliminary exploration in the years 1964-1971. Their anticipated economic resources were estimated in a C1 category at more than 597 million tonnes assuming a regular distribution of a polyhalite mineralization. The subsequent explorations demonstrated that the mineralization process was more complex than it was previously assumed and new resources calculations are needed in the future.
The minor accumulations of the potassium-magnesium salts (above 89 million tonnes of the anticipated economic resources) were identified along the eastern margin of the Kłodawa salt pillow (within the documented in the central part of the pillow deposit Kłodawa 1), where salts of the potassium chloride type (carnalite with a small addition of sylvine) and magnesium salts (kieserite) 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 and magnesium salts are strongly contaminated with the clayey matter and rock salt. The mean content of K2O is of 8.5% and MgO of 8.1%. The potassium salt accumulations are of a minimal economic interest due to a high variability in thickness of a bed (from a few to 50 m) and problems in the raw material enrichment. The salts were exploited temporarily till the year 2000 when 1,400 tonnes were mined. Nowadays, there is no potassium and magnesium salt exploitation carried out in Poland.
The potassium-magnesium salts according to the limit parameters that define a deposit are documented to the depth of 1,200 m (within beds occurrences, while in salt domes it is the depth of a deposit documentation process). The 2 m thickness (with the intercalations) is accepted as the minimum, providing that the weighted average K2O content in the deposit (with the intercalations) is not lower than 8%. Since 2012 there has been more interest demonstrated by the national and foreign companies in Polish potassium and magnesium salt occurrences and deposits especially located in the Bay of Puck area. These deposits need to be explored more precisely and resources have to be recalculated together with the assessment of the exploitation worthwhileness. As of the end of 2021, the concession for the KGHM Polish Copper Combine S.A. – for prospecting and exploring of the given raw material – is still in force.
The anticipated economic resources, anticipated sub-economic resources and economic resources of the potassium-magnesium salts in Poland remained unchanged in comparison with 2020.
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).
The foreseen resources (the prospective and prognostic) of the Permian potassium-magnesium salts in Poland, assessed to the depth of 2 km within the bedded occurrences, amount to almost 3.64 billion tonnes*.
Prepared by: Grzegorz Czapowski
* Czapowski G., Bukowski K., Mazurek S., 2020 - "Sól kamienna (rock salt, salt, halites), sole potasowo-magnezowe (potash salts, potassium salts, potassium-magnessium salts)". In: "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r." (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 218-232. PIG-PIB, Warszawa [in Polish].