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Hard coal

Polish hard coal deposits belong to the Carboniferous Euro-American coal province. In Europe this province is represented by two belts of coal basins: a belt of paralic coal basins that originated near the sea in depressions along the front of the Variscan fold belt which was forming in these times, and that of limnic basins, with coals accumulating in closed basins and intermontane depressions with disconnected internal river systems. In Poland, coal deposits of the Carboniferous age occur in three basins (map): two basins of the paralic type - the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB) and Lublin Coal Basin (LCB), and one of the limnic type - the Lower Silesian Coal Basin (LSCB). Exploitation of coal is being continued in the first two of these basins (USCB and LCB). The third, Lower Silesian Coal Basin (LSCB), is at present of historical value only.

The Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB) is the major coal basin in Poland. This is the area where all of the operating coal mines are situated except one large Bogdanka mine. The area of Polish part of USCB is estimated at about 5,600 km2. At present anticipated economic resources of USCB account for about 80.1 % of domestic resources of Poland. The Bogdanka mine, the first and the only mine operating in LCB, exploits a deposit occupying an area of about 77 km2, which corresponds to 0,8 % of total area of LCB. Mining operations were phased out in the Lower Silesian Coal Basin (LSCB) in the year 2000, along with closing works in the last active coal field, the Słupiec coal field of the Nowa Ruda mine. Coal production ceased in LSCB due to difficult geological-mining conditions mining and resulting clearly excessive exploitation costs. The anticipated economic resources left in the abandoned mining fields of LSCB were reclassified as anticipated subeconomic. The abandoned anticipated sub-economic coal resources in LSCB were estimated at about 369 million tonnes. In 2011, in order of the Ministry of the Environment, there was the verification of the resources remained in abandoned deposits elaborated. The resources were recalculated according to the new “deposit criteria” (balance criteria). Calculations applied also to seven LSCB deposits and new anticipated economic resources are now equal 359.72 million tonnes.

Hard coal prognostic resources in Poland amounted to 20,041.7 million tonnes and perspective resources amounted to 31,652.7 million tonnes as of 31.12.2010(1). In USCB prognostic resources totaled 9,193.4 million tonnes (including 1,081.2 million tonnes of energy coals and 8,112.2 million tonnes of coke coals) and perspective resources totaled 25,533 million tonnes (19,156.8 million tonnes of energy coals and 6,376.2 million tonnes of coke coals). In LCB these resources amounted to 10,847.7 million tonnes and 5,887.6 million tonnes respectively. LSCB prognostic resources equal 0.39 million tonnes (resources of Heddi deposits which was crossed out of “The balance...”) and perspective resources amounted to 232 million tonnes (Wałbrzych and Nowa Ruda area).

The anticipated economic resources as of 31.12.2013 totaled 51,414 million tonnes. Energy coals represent almost ¾ of the resources and coke coals – about ¼ whereas the share of other types of coals remains negligible. Resources of the exploited coal deposits were equal 19,485 million tonnes, accounting for 37.9 % of the total anticipated economic resources. There were 5 new deposits documented in 2013: Anna 1, Brzezinka 1, Dąb, Oświęcim-Polanka 1 and Śmiłowice.

Table 1 shows total hard coal resources and the current state of their exploration and development in Poland.

In 2013 anticipated economic resources increased by 3,188.87 million tonnes in comparison with the previous year. That was mainly due to the documentation of 5 new deposits: Anna 1 (with resources equal 1.43), Brzezinka 1 (152.26 million tonnes), Dąb (1,085.87 million tonnes), Oświęcim-Polanka 1 (534 million tonnes) and Śmiłowice (512.96). There were accepted new documentations with recalculations of resources for 7 already documented deposits where resources increased: Anna, Bzie-Dębina 1 – Zachód, Chudów-Paniowy, LZW – obszar K-3, LZW – obszar K-6 I K-7, Oświęcim-Polanka and Zator. There were also approved new documentations with recalculated resources for 5 already documented deposits where resources decreased: Brzezinka, Byczyna, Knurów, Libiąż-Janina and Mikołów. One deposit – Libiąż-Dąb (with resources equal 11.37 million tonnes) – was crossed out of “The balance..”.

In 2013, anticipated economic resources covered by detailed exploration (categories A, B and C1 of the Polish classification of resources) totaled 21,186.74 million tonnes, accounting for 41.2 % of total anticipated economic resources.

Economic resources of mined deposits as shown in the approved mine management plans were equal 3,839.63 million tonnes, decreasing by 370.96 million tonnes in relation to the year 2012. These resources are currently calculated with reference to the duration of the concession for exploitation thus their real volume in some deposits may be much bigger.

According to the production data supplied by operators of individual hard coal mines – as of the end of 2013 – total production equaled 68,399 thousand tonnes, decreasing by 2,940 thousand tonnes in relation to the previous year.

The figure given below shows changes in resources and production of hard coal in Poland in the years 1989-2013.

In USCB all technological types of hard coal occur. There is energy coal, coke coal and sometimes anthracite. Mean ash content varies from 11 % to 17 % and sulfur content from 0.59 % to 2.3 %. In LCB mainly energy coal and coke coal occur. Mean ash content amounts for 14.63 % and sulfur content vary from 1.21 % to 1.46 %.

Prepared by: Agnieszka Malon, Marcin Tymiński

(1) J. Jureczka i inni, 2011 - "Węgiel kamienny" in "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31 XII 2009 r." pod red. S. Wołkowicz, T. Smakowski, S. Speczik. PIG-PIB Warszawa.