General information and occurrence
In Poland the name "kaolin" is referred to a white or yellowish soft clayey rock mainly built of minerals of the kaolinite group. Kaolin originates in the result of weathering or hydrothermal decomposition of igneous and metamorphic rocks rich in feldspars. From the origin point of view, kaolin can be divided into: residual kaolin (primary – originated as an in-situ decomposition of a parent rock) and sedimentary kaolin (secondary – formed in the result of wash down of a weathered parent rock, transport and deposition of weathering products in the other place.
The name of kaolin raw materials is referred to the Upper Cretaceous sandstones with a kaolinite cement, occurring in the North Sudetic Depression. To this group of raw materials there was also assigned the deposit of basalts weathering products Dunino, originally documented as a halloysite raw material deposit (in 1983). The re-assessing of the deposit resulted in re-classifying it to the kaolinite raw materials (in 1997).
The deposits of kaolin raw materials in Poland originated in the result of a regional kaolinization of acid igneous and metamorphic rocks throughout vast areas in the foreland of the Sudety Mts. The process covered the Strzegom-Sobótka and Strzelin granitoid massifs as well as some parts of the Sowie Mts. and Izerskie Mts. In the Neogene the weathering processes gave rise to the origin of thick weathering covers. The kaolin deposits belong to 2 types – the residual kaolin or the kaolin sedimentary in nature, spatially related to the parent rocks. In both cases the deposits are located within the areas of the above mentioned massifs of granites and metamorphic rocks.
High-quality kaolin materials, currently these representing a fraction below 15 µm, are used in the manufacture of ceramics, rubber, polymers and fiberglass industries. In turn, coarser fractions find use in the making of recently fashionable ceramic wall and floor tiles of a „gres porcellanato” type, the production of which requires the washed kaolin with a very low content of coloring oxides (TiO2 and Fe2O3). The kaolin raw materials are also used for the manufacture of stoneware ceramics, white cement and fire-proof materials. Kaolin is also obtained in the glass sands mine (Biała Góra) and the foundry sands mine (Grudzeń-Las).
Kaolin deposits occurence is presented on the map.
Resources and output
Table 1 shows resources and the state of development and exploration of kaolin raw materials in Poland.
Anticipated economic resources of kaolin amounted to 225.80 million tonnes as of 31.12.2022 and decreased by 0.32 million tonnes in comparison with the previous year. The drop resulted from the exploitation. The anticipated economic resources of 2 exploited deposits amount to 52.77 million tonnes and account for 23.37% of total anticipated economic resources.
The economic resources declined by 0.32 million tonnes (by 0.71%) due to the output and amounted to 44.73 million tonnes in 2022 which accounts for 85% of the anticipated economic resources of exploited deposits.
In 2022, the output of kaolin raw materials grew by 2.53 thousand tonnes (by 0.8%) in comparison with the previous year and was equal 317.57 thousand tonnes, from which the majority was exploited from the Maria III-1 deposit (316.65 thousand tonnes) and only a minor part (0.92 thousand tonnes) of the raw material from the Dunino deposit.
The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of kaolin in Poland in the years 1989-2022.
The prognostic resources of kaolin raw materials are assessed to be equal 38.44 million tonnes and the prospective resources to be equal 59.97 million tonnes*.
Prepared by: Agnieszka Malon
* Lewicka E., 2020 - "Kaoliny (kaolin)". In: "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r." (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 340-344. PIG-PIB, Warszawa [in Polish].