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Mineral resources of Poland> Rock raw materials and others> Sand and gravel (natural aggregates)
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Sand and gravel

Two major groups of natural sandy-gravelly aggregates are differentiated: a coarse aggregate group, comprising gravels and sand-gravel mix (sandy-gravelly aggregates), and that of fine aggregates – sandy. Sand deposits in Poland are usually evenly arranged and only southern Voivodeships are characterized by their shortage (map). In turn, the course aggregates deposits – particularly marketable – occur unevenly and especially the central Voivodeships are characterized by the deficiency.

The bulk of Polish natural sand and gravel deposits are of the Quaternary age. The share of deposits of the older formations: the Pliocene, Miocene and Liassic in the age is subordinate.

The quality of a raw material, and especially the deposits homogeneity, depends largely on a genetic type of a given deposit. Among the deposits of the Quaternary age there are three genetic types: glacial, fluvioglacial and fluvial (river). They are characterized by a zonality of the occurrence.

In the southern part of Poland, in the Carpathian-Sudetic zone, the most common are deposits of the fluvial (river) origin. In the Sudety Mts., the deposits of sandy-gravel higher terraces of the Pleistocene age prevail, built mainly of the crystalline rocks and sandstones. In turn, in the Carpathian region the raw material basis comprises mainly gravelly and sandy-gravelly deposits occurring on flood-plain terraces as well as valley side terraces rising above flood plains. The Carpathian deposits are characterized by a predominance of the material coming from a disintegration of flysch rocks, except for those of the Dunajec River valley, showing a fairly high contribution of the crystalline rocks from the Tatry Mts.

In northern and central Poland – on the Polish Lowlands, the most important are deposits of a glacial (an accumulation platform of front moraine) and fluvioglacial (outwash plain and esker) origin and resulting from a river accumulation. Deposits from the northern part of that area are represented by gravelly-sandy accumulations mainly comprising the Scandinavian material – debris of crystalline rocks and limestones with an admixture of quartz and sandstones. In the central and southern parts of this region, the deposits are mainly formed of sandy sediments with a significant share of a debris of local rocks.

The deposits of a high quality natural sandy-gravelly aggregates are also located on the Polish economic zone of the Baltic Sea.

According to the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of the 1st of July 2015 regarding the geological documentation of a raw material deposit, excluding a hydrocarbons field , establishing the limit values of the parameters that define the deposit and its borders, a feldspar-quartzitic sand deposit with the sand content above 75% should be characterized by the thickness not smaller than 2 m, the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 0.3 and the content of silt fraction below 10%, while a sand, gravelly-sandy and sandy-gravelly deposit with the sand content below 75% should be characterized by the thickness not smaller than 2 m, with the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 1.0 and the content of a silt fraction below 15%.

The sand and gravel deposits occurrence in Poland is presented on the map.

Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of natural sand and gravel aggregates.

The prognostic resources of the natural sandy-gravelly aggregates are assessed to be equal more than 13 billion tonnes*. The occur quite evenly in Poland. The areas of the prospective raw material occurrences, in contrast to the prognostic ones, are of a lower exploration category – due to the evaluation based on the indirect indicators, the lack of quality tests and non-assessed resources amount.

The anticipated economic resources of natural aggregates as of 31.12.2019 totaled 19,742.66 million tonnes. The resources increased by 272.28 million tonnes (that is by 1.4%) in relation to the previous year. The growth dynamism increased in comparison with the previous year when it was equal 1.13%.

The natural sandy-gravelly aggregates have being documented within 4 subtypes: sands, sands with gravel, gravel, loamy and silty sands. The resources of sands with the sand content above 75% amount to 8,969.64 million tonnes (increased by 254.56 million tonnes in comparison with 2018) from which 2,535.63 million tonnes are within exploited deposits. The resources of gravelly-sandy and sandy-gravelly aggregates with the sand content between 30% and 75% amount to 9,746.78 million tonnes (the growth by 17.87 million tonnes). The resources of gravel (with the sand content <30%) amount to 994.24 million tonnes (the drop by 2.58 million tonnes) and the resources of silty, loamy sands amounted to 31.99 million tonnes (the growth by 2.43 million tonnes).

In particular Voivodeship the distribution of the anticipated economic resources of natural aggregates subtypes as of the end of 2019 was as follows:

Voivodeship/Region
Sand
(million tonnes)
Sand
with gravel
(million tonnes)
Gravel
(million tonnes)
Silty, loamy
sand
(million tonnes)
Baltic Sea 0 135 0 0
Dolnośląskie 554 1,597 144 14
Kujawsko-pomorskie 394 45 0 0
Lubelskie 1,004 20 0 0
Lubuskie 615 561 0 0
Łódzkie 582 146 0 0
Małopolskie 92 1,176 545 0
Mazowieckie 1,058 277 0 0
Opolskie 200 1,072 150 1
Podkarpackie 684 547 83 5
Podlaskie 150 1,541 0 0
Pomorskie 693 487 0 2
Śląskie 370 453 67 0
Świętokrzyskie 620 21 2 3
Warmińsko-mazurskie 319 981 2 0
Wielkopolskie 920 167 0 0
Zachodniopomorskie 716 519 0 6

The resources increased due to:

  • The including into “The balance…” 408 newly documented deposits with the total resources equal above 438 million tonnes. In 2019, the largest resources amount: 71.82 million tonnes (31 new deposits) was documented in Pomorskie Voivodeship. The biggest deposits are as follows: Strzelęcino III (15.5 million tonnes), Sycowa Huta (12.08 million tonnes), Rychnowy III (9.43 million tonnes), Zagórki IV (6.54 million tonnes), Kleszczewo I (4.78 million tonnes), Sulęczyno V (3.83 million tonnes). The resources of the 12 biggest deposits amount to above 63 million tonnes that is 88% of the total resources documented in the Voivodeship. The remaining resources of 8.7 million tonnes in the volume (the range 0.12-1 million tonnes) are within 19 deposits. In the second best Podlaskie Voivodeship, there were above 63 million tonnes of sands and gravel within 47 deposits documented. The deposits resources are in the range between about 103 thousand tonnes and more than 11 million tonnes. The biggest of these deposits are as follows: Gałkówka-Zaruzie (11.67 million tonnes), Drogoszewo (8.82 million tonnes), Kuków XIV (4.45 million tonnes), Janowszczyzna IV – pole A (3.51 million tonnes), Czerwony Bór II (2.73 million tonnes), Knyszyn III (2.36 million tonnes), Suwałki VII (2.28 million tonnes), Janowszczyzna XI (2.02 million tonnes).. From all of the newly documented resources in the Voivodeship 80% are within 17 deposits with the resources volume between 1 million tonnes and 11.7 million tonnes. In third place, in terms of newly documented resources, there is Mazowieckie Voivodeship: 34.6 million tonnes (54 deposits). The biggest new deposits are: Chrzczony (6.1 million tonnes), Prosienica VI (3.88 million tonnes), Dębinki V (2.85 million tonnes), Pułtusk II (2.02 million tonnes). Moreover, among the biggest deposits there are also: Święcianowo VII (9 million tonnes) and Moryń III (4.25 million tonnes) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship; Ligota Mała I (7.34 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship; Potępa (7.05 million tonnes) located in Śląskie Voivodeship; Paruszowice 1 (6.92 million tonnes), Anna Olesno (5.66 million tonnes) and Maria Olesno (5.61 million tonnes) located in Opolskie Voivodeship; Czarna Sędziszowska (6.54 million tonnes) located in Podkarpackie Voivodeship; Gruczno I (5.6 million tonnes) and Pędzewo VIII (5.19 million tonnes) located in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, Gietrzwałd I (5.04 million tonnes), Gietrzwałd II (4.84 million tonnes) and Niedźwiedzkie III (4.19 million tonnes) located in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, Głażewo MK (4.95 million tonnes) located in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship. The smallest resources amount i.e. 4.09 million tonnes (in 6 deposits) was documented in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, moreover there were 6.93 million tonnes (in 6 deposits) and 14.6 million tonnes (in 11 deposits) documented in Małopolskie and Lubuskie Voivodeships, respectively. In 2019, there were also 12.13 million tonnes of the anticipated sub-economic resources documented. Most of them in Ligota Mała I deposit (3 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Czarna Sędziszowska (2.62 million tonnes) located in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Strzelęcino III (2.02 million tonnes) located in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Czaple (0.84 million tonnes) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship, Paruszowice 1 (0.69 million tonnes) located in Opolskie Voivodeship.
  • The verification and updating of resources due to the deposit area enlargement or deepening of its range, the resources updating as a result of a longtime exploitation, the change of a deposit usage and its designation in the site management plans within the borders of which the deposit was documented, or the resources settlement after an allocation of new deposits documented within the area of previously explored. The most significant resources growths were recorded for the following deposits: Woliczno IV (11.48 million tonnes) and Wietszyno (7.05 million tonnes) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship, Brzezie nad Odrą (8.6 million tonnes), Lubomia III (7.78 million tonnes), Racibórz II – Zbiornik 4 (2.54 million tonnes) and Bojszowy II/1 (6.6 million tonnes) located in Śląskie Voivodeship; Gościszka (5.75 million tonnes), Olszany VII (2.05 million tonnes) and Sokołówek (2.04 million tonnes) located in Mazowieckie Voivodeship; Prusim I (4.62 million tonnes), Gołębowo MD (4.06 million tonnes), Stara Dąbrowa I-Wschód (3.57 million tonnes) and Wincentów V (2.01 million tonnes) located in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship; Kołaczkowo I (3.83 million tonnes) located in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship; Kaimy IV (2.25 million tonnes) located in Podlaskie Voivodeship; Wróblowa (2.21 million tonnes) located in Podkarpackie Voivodeship; Stefanówka (2.01 million tonnes) located in Lubelskie Voivodeship.
  • The balance of the resources drops and growths, established in the new documentations with recalculated resources or being the results of the current resources verification connected with the exploitation (more than 54 million tonnes).

The resources decreased by:

  • The output (182.81 million tonnes).
  • The crossing 179 aggregate deposits out from the domestic resources balance – about 37.4 million tonnes in total. The biggest resources volumes were crossed out from the i.a. deposits: Krzeczów III (-2.37 million tonnes) located in Łódzkie Voivodeship; Dwory-Mańki (-1.9 million tonnes) and Kłokoczyn Pod Lasem (-1.14 million tonnes) located in Małopolskie Voivodeship; Gąsawy-Nogaj (-1.67 million tonnes), Trojanów II (-1.16 million tonnes) and Jelonki-Przyborowie 3 (-1.15 million tonnes) located in Mazowieckie Voivodeship; Drahle VI (-1.19 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship; Nowa I (-1.05 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship; Pilewice III (-1.01 million tonnes) located in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship.
  • The new documentation with recalculated (decreased) resources elaborated for i.a. deposits: Bojszowy II (-6.33 million tonnes) located in Śląskie Voivodeship, Pisarzowice (-1.81 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Mrzezino I (-1.55 million tonnes), Głazica (-0.97 million tonnes) and Kębłowo (-0.96 million tonnes) located in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Racibórz I-Zbiornik (-1.48 million tonnes) located in Śląskie Voivodeship; Łapka 3 (-1.45 million tonnes) located in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, Kanigówek (-1.42 million tonnes) and Kamińsk (-1.11 million tonnes) located in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Główczyce (-1.35 million tonnes) located in Opolskie Voivodeship;
  • The balance of resources decreases and increases specified in the new documentation with recalculated resources and resources changes being the result of the current resources verification due to the exploitation – about -22 million tonnes.

The resources growth in Poland, similarly to the previous years, was the result of the increases in most of Voivodeships. The most significant increases were recorded in Voivodeships preparing the infrastructural investments i.a. Pomorskie, Podlaskie, Zachodniopomorskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie. The table below shows changes within anticipated economic resources in particular Voivodeships in 2019 (thousand tonnes).

Increases (thousand tonnes)
Decreases (thousand tonnes)
Pomorskie Voivodeship 53,120 Małopolskie Voivodeship -13,161
Podlaskie Voivodeship 35,227 Dolnośląskie Voivodeship -1,453
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 35,041 Baltic Sea -1,051
Kujawsko-pomorskie Voivodeship 24,404  
Śląskie Voivodeship 24,024  
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 23,511  
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 22,363  
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 17,102  
Opolskie Voivodeship 15,993  
Warmińsko-mazurskie Voivodeship 10,905  
Lubuskie Voivodeship 9,851  
Lubelskie Voivodeship 9,579  
Łódzkie Voivodeship 6,609  
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 221  
Total increases 287,950 Total decreases -15,665

The biggest numbers of deposits are nowadays documented in the following Voivodeships: Mazowieckie (1,410), Wielkopolskie (1,232), Lubelskie (973), Łódzkie (861), Warmińsko-Mazurskie (821) and Podkarpackie (760).

The Voivodeships with the biggest documented resources are: Dolnośląskie (2,309 million tonnes), Małopolskie (1,813 million tonnes), Podlaskie (1,692 million tonnes), Opolskie (1,423 million tonnes), Podkarpackie (1,319 million tonnes) and Mazowieckie (1,336 million tonnes).

The resources of deposits covered by a detailed exploration (A, B and C1 categories) are equal 11,926.45 million tonnes and account for 60% of the total resources. The resources covered by the preliminary exploration (C2 and D categories) account for 40% of the total resources and amount to 7,816.20 million tonnes. The resources of exploited deposits, being equal 5,961.83 million tonnes, account for 30% of the total resources. These resources decreased by 39.4 million tonnes in comparison with 2018. Non-exploited deposits contain 12,076.43 million tonnes (61%) of resources (the growth by 167.32 million tonnes), whereas resources of abandoned deposits are equal 1,704.39 million tonnes. The latter resources increased by 144.36 million tonnes.

The economic resources amounted in 2019 to 4,168.82 million tonnes and increased in comparison with the previous year by 107 million tonnes. The economic resources, established for the exploited deposits, are equal 3,498.09 million tonnes accounting for 58.7% of their documented resources. The distribution of the developed anticipated economic resources, the economic resources and exploited deposits in particular Voivodeships as of the end of 2019 was as follows:

Voivodeship/Region
Developed resources (million tonnes)
Anticipated economic Economic Anticipated economic of exploited deposits
Baltic Sea 90 89 90
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship 710 377 613
Kujawsko-pomorskie Voivodeship 153 101 106
Lubelskie Voivodeship 147 74 120
Lubuskie Voivodeship 314 158 283
Łódzkie Voivodeship 356 208 275
Małopolskie Voivodeship 440 150 351
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 406 259 278
Opolskie Voivodeship 322 138 294
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 249 117 182
Podlaskie Voivodeship 854 553 560
Pomorskie Voivodeship 360 289 304
Śląskie Voivodeship 284 89 216
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 79 39 74
Warmińsko-mazurskie Voivodeship 386 304 250
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 477 277 347
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 334 276 246

In 2019, the output of sands and gravel amounted to 182.81 million tonnes. In comparison with the previous year it dropped by 14.19 million tonnes that is by 7.2%. The exploitation decreased in 11 out of 16 Voivodeships and in 8 of them by more than 1 million tonnes.. The output volume is strictly connected with the road investments sector where the demand for the raw material is the most significant. Therefore, the production dropped in the regions in which the building processes of domestic roads, expressways and highways ended or were in the final phase. The biggest output drops were recorded in the following Voivodeship: Zachodniopomorskie – resulted from the putting into service the S6 road; Mazowieckie – where the aggregates were delivered for the S17 and A2 roads building; Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship – where the S5 road is almost finished. Moreover, the last year drop, prospected in forecasts, was the result of the economic situation worsening – connected with i.a. the share of the infrastructural programs co-financed by the EU. The output changes in 2019 in particular Voivodeships is presented below:

The output in comparison with 2018
The difference
(thousand tonnes)
The difference
(%)
Total -14,192 -7.2
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 1,653 21.6
Łódzkie Voivodeship 1,205 15.1
Podlaskie Voivodeship 834 3.3
Opolskie Voivodeship 577 7.0
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 543 26.7
Lubelskie Voivodeship 458 7.6
Baltic Sea 447 53.9
Małopolskie Voivodeship -46 -0.3
Lubuskie Voivodeship -989 -17.3
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship -1,081 -8.3
Śląskie Voivodeship -1,520 -14.5
Pomorskie Voivodeship -1 966 -10.3
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship -1,976 -12.5
Warmińsko-mazurskie Voivodeship -2,111 -11.9
Kujawsko-pomorskie Voivodeship -2,635 -29.2
Mazowieckie Voivodeship -3,001 -16.8
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship -4,584 -26.7

The number of sands and gravel deposit in 2019 amounted to 10,504 including 2,626 of exploited deposits (in this group there are deposits crossed out from “The balance…” and those for which the concessions expired and the deposits were marked as abandoned). In comparison with the previous year (2,667 deposits) the number has slightly decreased. The number of non-exploited deposits increased by 250 (from 7,628 in 2018 to 7,878 in 2019) that is more than the total growth. The structure of the deposits divided according to the output volume in particular Voivodeships in 2019 is presented below:

Voivodeship/Region
Output (thousand tonnes)
Exploited deposits
<50
50-200
200-500
500-1,000
>1,000
Number
(%)
Baltic Sea 1 0 0 0 1 2 67
Dolnośląskie 63 25 11 10 0 109 23
Kujawsko-pomorskie 117 28 6 0 0 151 21
Lubelskie 190 28 3 1 0 222 23
Lubuskie 34 20 3 2 0 59 22
Łódzkie 211 28 9 2 0 250 29
Małopolskie 43 25 27 4 0 99 26
Mazowieckie 327 41 12 4 0 384 27
Opolskie 20 14 9 6 0 49 25
Podkarpackie 144 33 9 1 0 187 25
Podlaskie 185 41 7 2 8 243 31
Pomorskie 102 37 16 2 2 159 22
Śląskie 25 15 10 3 1 54 18
Świętokrzyskie 45 8 4 0 0 57 28
Warmińsko-mazurskie 129 28 11 4 2 174 21
Wielkopolskie 306 43 7 2 0 358 29
Zachodniopomorskie 33 22 8 4 2 69 18
Number of deposits 1,975 436 152 47 16 2,926

Natural sands and gravel are also recovered during the exploitation of brown coal deposits. In 2019 the output of the raw material from non-documented deposits during the exploitation in the Bełchatów mine from the Szczerców field amounted to 218.28 thousand tonnes, whereas the output in Turów was equal 40.02 thousand tonnes of sands and sands with gravel.

Figure below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sand and gravel in Poland in the years 1989-2019.


Prepared by: Wojciech Miśkiewicz, Dariusz Brzeziński, Anna Kalinowska, Joanna Stawierej

* Kozłowska O., Smakowski T., Miśkiewicz W., 2020 - Kruszywo naturalne piaskowo-żwirowe (natural aggregates). In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r. (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 258-275. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.