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Hard coal

Polish hard coal deposits belong to the Carboniferous Euro-American coal province. The province in Europe 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, is at present of historical value only.

The Upper Silesian Coal Basin is the major coal basin in Poland. This is the area where all of the operating coal mines are situated except of 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 78.9% of domestic resources of Poland.

In the LCB area there is only one mine which is carrying out the exploitation (Bogdanka mine). Documented deposits within LCB cover the area of 1,200 km2, whereas prospective resources the area of 9,100 km2. Bogdanka mine exploits two deposits – Bogdanka and LZW – obszar K-3, which cover the area of 92 km2 (it accounts for 0.9% of total LCB area).

Mining operations were phased out in the Lower Silesian Coal Basin 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 and resulting in excessive exploitation costs. The anticipated economic resources left in the abandoned mining fields of LSCB were reclassified as anticipated subeconomic. The abandoned anticipated subeconomic 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 423.05 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 31.12.2009*. 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 deposit which was crossed out from “The balance...”) and perspective resources amounted to 232 million tonnes (Wałbrzych and Nowa Ruda area).

Anticipated economic resources as of 31.12.2015 totaled 56,220 million tonnes. Energy coals represent 71.6% of the resources, coke coals – 27.0%, whereas the other types of coals - 1.4%. Resources of the exploited coal deposits were equal 21,107 million tonnes, accounting for 37.5% of the total anticipated economic resources. There were five new deposits documented within USCB area: Jan Kanty-Szczakowa, Powstańców Śląskich 1, Siersza 2, Studzienice 1 and Żory-Suszec 1, whereas only one deposit documented in LCB area – Lublin.

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

In 2015 anticipated economic resources increased by 4,260,050 thousand tonnes in comparison with the previous year. The reasons were:

  • resources growth due to the documentation of 6 new deposits (+4,552.62 million tonnes): within USCB area - Jan Kanty-Szczakowa (+146.53 million tonnes), Powstańców Śląskich 1 (+48.02 million tonnes), Siersza 2 (+202.04 million tonnes), Studzienice 1 (+1,335.56 million tonnes), Żory-Suszec 1 (+542.62 million tonnes) and within LCB area - Lublin (+2,277.85 million tonnes);
  • resources growth due to the new documentations with recalculations of resources for 8 already documented deposits where resources increased (+1,865.64 million tonnes): Borynia (+635.66 million tonnes), Brzeszcze (+298.27 million tonnes), Halemba II (+246.00 million tonnes), Janina (+125.91 million tonnes), Kazimierz Juliusz (+34.38 million tonnes), Paruszowiec (+138.32 million tonnes), Śmiłowice (+224.66 million tonnes) and Lublin K-9 (+162.44 million tonnes);
  • resources drop due to crossing 3 deposits out from "The balance…” (-728.20 million tonnes) – in USCB area Czeczott-pole zachód (-24.92 million tonnes) deposit and in LCB area Lublin K-4 i K-5 (-453.02 million tonnes) and Lublin K-9 (-250.26 million tonnes) deposits;
  • resources drop due to the new documentations with recalculations of resources for 7 deposits (-1,354.71 million tonnes): Jan Kanty (-57.56 million tonnes), Międzyrzecze (-35.18 million tonnes), Pokój (-1.38 million tonnes), Powstańców Śląskich (-22.88 million tonnes), Siersza (-108.40 million tonnes), Studzienice (-728.89 million tonnes) and Żory-Suszec (-400.42 million tonnes);
  • resources drop caused by the exploitation and losses.

In 2015, anticipated economic resources covered by detailed exploration (categories A, B, C1 of the Polish classification of resources) totaled 24,933.62 million tonnes, accounting for 44.3% of total anticipated economic resources.

Economic resources of mined deposits as shown in the approved mine management plans were equal 3,573.69 million tonnes, decreasing by 189.93 million tonnes in relation to the year 2014 due to the exploitation, losses and new mine management plans. 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 2015 – total production equaled 65,070 thousand tonnes, decreasing by 899 thousand tonnes (1.4%) in relation to the previous year (Table 2).

The figure given below shows changes in resources and production of hard coal in Poland in the years 1989-2015.

In USCB all technological types of hard coal occur. There is energy coal (type 31), coke coal (type 38) and sometimes anthracite (type 42). Mean ash content varies from 4.2-62.0% and sulfur content - 0.4-64.0%. In LCB mainly energy coal and coke coal occur (types 31-34). Mean ash content varies from 6.2 to 18.1% and sulfur content - from 1.4 to 3.1%. In LSCB mean ash content amounts within the range of 10.1-38.8% and sulphur content - 0.7-1.6%.

Prepared by: Agnieszka Malon, Marcin Tymiński

*Jureczka J., Zdanowski A., Ihnatowicz A., Krieger W., Wilk S., 2011 - Węgiel kamienny. In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31 XII 2009 r. (ed. S. Wołkowicz, T. Smakowski, S. Speczik): 51-62. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.