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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

General information and occurrence

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 important are deposits of the fluvial (river) origin. In the Sudety Mts., the deposits of sandy-gravelly 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. They are of a fluvioglacial processes and the selection of the maritime sediments origin. They are characterized by the isolated form of deposits fields with irregular shape and varying thickness.

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.

Resources and output

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

The anticipated economic resources of natural aggregates as of 31.12.2020 totaled 19,960.61 million tonnes. The resources increased by 217.95 million tonnes (that is by 1.09%) in relation to the previous year. The growth dynamism decreased in comparison with the previous year when it was equal 1.4%.

The natural sandy-gravelly aggregates have been 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 9,439.01 million tonnes (increased by 469.37 million tonnes in comparison with 2019) from which 2,718.50 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 9,495.07million tonnes (the drop by -251.71 million tonnes). The resources of gravel (with the sand content <30%) amount to 989.39 million tonnes (the drop by -4.85 million tonnes) and the resources of silty, loamy sands amounted to 37.14 million tonnes (the growth by 5.15 million tonnes).

The resources increased due to:

  • The including into “The balance…” 347 newly documented deposits with the total resources equal above 429.22 million tonnes. In 2020, the largest resources amount: 93.13 million tonnes (37 new deposits) was documented in Pomorskie Voivodeship. The biggest deposits are as follows: Nowy Barkoczyn VII (18.62 million tonnes), Lubiana-Owśnica III (11.65 million tonnes), Linia V (11.47 million tonnes), Gostomie XIX (10.50 million tonnes), Lędziechowo II (6.1 million tonnes), Gostomie XVII (6.02 million tonnes), Łęczyce (5.81 million tonnes), Łebień 2 (4.08 million tonnes. The resources of the 12 biggest deposits amount to almost 82 million tonnes the range 1.3-18.6 million tonnes) that is 88% of the total resources newly documented in the Voivodeship. The remaining resources of 11.2 million tonnes in the volume (the range 0.03-0.9 million tonnes) are within 25 deposits. In the second best Wielkopolskie Voivodeship, there were documented about 44.57 million tonnes of sands and gravel within 55 deposits with the resources from about 48 thousand tonnes to almost 14 million tonnes. The biggest of these deposits are as follows: Łężeczki MŁ (13.82 million tonnes), Luciny IV (4.89 million tonnes) and Janków, Murzynowo Leśne I, Stary Gostyń JJ, Łękno I, Rosko MŁ V, Romanowo Górne DW II, Biskupice Ołoboczne V, Gulcz BW – with resources between 1.1 million tonnes and 1.8 million tonnes. The resources of 10 out of all of newly documented deposits are equal 30 million tonnes. In third place, in terms of newly documented resources, there is Opolskie Voivodeship: 42.06 million tonnes (9 deposits). The biggest new deposits are: Bielice – Zbiornik 1 (25.09 million tonnes), Borki Małe (3.89 million tonnes), Więcmierzyce 1 (3.56 million tonnes), Jaśkowice (3.24 million tonnes). The smallest resources amount i.e. 4.29 million tonnes (in 3 deposits) was documented in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, moreover there were 7 million tonnes (in 15 deposits) documented in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, 7.16 million tonnes (in 10 deposits) documented in Małopolskie Voivodeship. In 2020, there were also 4.16 million tonnes of the anticipated sub-economic resources documented. Most of them in: Mrowla III deposit (0.94 million tonnes) located in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Maurzyce II (0.84 million tonnes) located in Łódzkie Voivodeship, Miasteczko I (0.59 million tonnes) located in Śląskie Voivodeship, Strzyże II (0.33 million tonnes) located in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Marszowice-Piaski (0.3 million tonnes) located in Małopolskie 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: Kazimierz Lisia Jama (21.44 million tonnes), Ognica (6.88 million tonnes), Sępólno Wielkie 5 (in previous years Sępólno Wielkie V) (6.53 million tonnes) and Włościbórz (3.14 million tonnes) – all of them located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship; Pogorzelice II (7.13 million tonnes) in Pomorskie Voivodeship; Skoki II – Dąb Mały (15.71 million tonnes) in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship; Ziemin I (3.1 million tonnes) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship; Bieńkowice – Zachód 1 (5.20 million tonnes) in Śląskie Voivodeship; Lipiny (5.05 million tonnes) and Medynia Łańcucka-Czarna (3.21 million tonnes) in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Dwory (5.15 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Nowy Jaworów I (4.1 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship. In 30 deposits the resources increased from about 1 million tonnes to 21 million tonnes. In 36 deposits the resources adjustment did not exceed about 100 thousand tonnes, whereas in 42 deposits the resources settlement did not affect their volumes – they were the results of the exploitation end or the concession extinction.
  • 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 (almost 27 million tonnes, including more than 8 million tonnes of exploitation losses).

The resources decreased by:

  • The output (180.24 million tonnes).
  • The crossing 173 aggregate deposits out from the domestic resources balance – about 57.9 million tonnes in total. The biggest resources volumes were crossed out from the i.a. deposits: Ostromice III (-1.01 million tonnes) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship; Botowo III (-1.51 million tonnes) in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship; Łękawica (-2.34 million tonnes) in Śląskie Voivodeship, Rokitki II (-1.52 million tonnes) in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Łękowo (-1.12 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Zapałów II (-5.71 million tonnes) in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Zbiroża VIII (-2.70 million tonnes) and Zbiroża V (-1.74 million tonnes) in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Szujec (-7.54 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Sikorowo III (-1.58 million tonnes), Radziki IV (-1.31 million tonnes) and Smolniki I (-1.05 million tonnes) in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, Zubrza (-1.784 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship. In 26 deposits crossed out from “The balance…” there were not any resources left or their amounts were minor (a dozen or so thousand tonnes), in 80 deposits the resources volumes varied between 20 and 200 thousand tonnes, in 40 deposits the range was 200-900 thousand tonnes, whereas in 13 deposits above 1 million tonnes.
  • The new documentation with recalculated (decreased) resources elaborated for i.a. deposits: Deszczno-Łagodzin p. Krasowiec (-2 million tonnes) and Grajówka-Zbiornik-Pole Północne (-3.32 million tonnes) in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Woliczno SW (-10.77 million tonnes) and Łubowo (-2.06 million tonnes) in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship, Legnica-pole Wschodnie (-2.45 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Nowy Barkoczyn IV (-13.73 million tonnes), Ostrowite (-4 million tonnes) and Mirowo XV (-2.77 million tonnes) in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Bielice – Zbiornik (-17.1 million tonnes) and Więcmierzyce (-3.37 million tonnes) in Opolskie Voivodeship, Zabawa (-5.44 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship. The drops in 14 deposits covered the resources from about 1 to 17 million tonnes, whereas in 46 deposits it was the range between 0.1 and 0.7 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 the following: Pomorskie, Zachodniopomorskie, Wielkopolskie, Podkarpackie, Dolnośląskie, Lubuskie. The table below shows changes within anticipated economic resources in particular Voivodeships in 2020.

Increases (thousand tonnes)
Decreases (thousand tonnes)
Pomorskie Voivodeship 68,534 Małopolskie Voivodeship -15,556
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 46,050 Baltic Sea -3,624
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 34,284 Podlaskie Voivodeship -1,367
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 14,924  
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship 11,500  
Lubuskie Voivodeship 11,150  
Opolskie Voivodeship 10,712  
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 10,526  
Lubelskie Voivodeship 9,903  
Śląskie Voivodeship 9,805  
Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 4,868  
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 4,862  
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 1,037  
Łódzkie Voivodeship 345  
Total increases 238,501 Total decreases -20,547

In the deposits which were included into “The balance…” there was mainly sand documented (325 million tonnes) – and the biggest one, except for the above mentione is Wierzchowo I (12.5 million tonnes) in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. The resources of sand with gravel are equal 98 million tonnes within 70 deposits, i.e. Bielice – Zbiornik 1 (25.09 million tonnes) in Opolskie Voivodeship, Łukawiec – 2 (6.33 million tonnes) in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Drahle XI (6.32 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Nowy Barkoczyn VII (6.02 million tonnes) in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Grajówka – Zbiornik – Pole Północne 1 (4.56 million tonnes) in Lubuskie Voivodeship. The new gravel resources amount to 5.2 million tonnes within 6 deposits, from which the biggest is Dębno-Dunajec (2.16 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Sierakośce-IV (1.69 million tonnes) in Podkarpackie Voivodeship and Sędzisław IV (0.66 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship. The Voivodeship distribution of the subtype resources of the new deposits is presented below:

Voivodeship
Sand
(million tonnes)
Sand
with gravel
(million tonnes)
Gravel
(million tonnes)
Silty,
loamy sand
(million tonnes)
Dolnośląskie 21.2 3.2 0.7 0
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 6.2 0.8 0 0
Lubelskie 16.6 0.3 0 0
Lubuskie 18.1 4.6 0 0
Łódzkie 17.9 0 0 0
Małopolskie 1.6 3.3 2.3 0
Mazowieckie 22.8 1.4 0 0
Opolskie 10.6 31.5 0 0
Podkarpackie 8.4 7.6 2.2 0
Podlaskie 18.1 9.9 0 0
Pomorskie 85.2 7.8 0 0.2
Śląskie 14.6 7.8 0 0
Świętokrzyskie 4.3 0 0 0
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 10.5 12.6 0 0
Wielkopolskie 41.7 2.8 0 0
Zachodniopomorskie 27.0 4.9 0 0.9

The total area of the deposits included into “The balance…” in 2020 amounted to 2,378 ha, including 2,110 ha of the deposits with the are above 2 ha and 268 ha of the deposits below 2 ha. The biggest deposits are: Bielice – Zbiornik (141 ha) in Opolskie Voivodeship, Nowy Barkoczyn VII (104 ha) in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Łagiewniki Wielkie I (56 ha) in Śląskie Voivodeship, Łężeczki MŁ (52 ha) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship, Łubowo I (41 ha) in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. On the other hand, the smallest newly documented deposit is Gostomie XVIII (0.14 ha) in Pomorskie Voivodeship. The total area of the newly documented deposits is as follows:

Voivodeship
The area of newly documented deposits (ha)
Total >2 ha ≤2 ha
Pomorskie 406 375 31
Wielkopolskie 280 236 44
Opolskie 248 248 0
Zachodniopomorskie 163 156 7
Śląskie 161 159 2
Podlaskie 152 117 35
Podkarpackie 141 119 22
Lubuskie 137 137 0
Dolnośląskie 134 127 7
Mazowieckie 122 91 31
Warmińsko-mazurskie 108 89 19
Lubelskie 97 78 19
Łódzkie 80 53 27
Małopolskie 70 65 5
Kujawsko-pomorskie 53 39 14
Świętokrzyskie 25 22 3

The biggest numbers of deposits are nowadays documented in the following Voivodeships: Mazowieckie (1,421), Wielkopolskie (1,267), Lubelskie (981), Łódzkie (863), Warmińsko-Mazurskie (836) and Podkarpackie (769).

The Voivodeships with the biggest documented resources are: Dolnośląskie (2,320 million tonnes), Małopolskie (1,797 million tonnes), Podlaskie (1,690 million tonnes), Opolskie (1,433 million tonnes), Mazowieckie (1,340 million tonnes) and Podkarpackie (1,334 million tonnes).

The resources of deposits covered by a detailed exploration (A, B and C1 categories) are equal 12,207.76 million tonnes and account for 61% of the total resources. The resources covered by the preliminary exploration (C2 and D categories) account for 38.8% of the total resources and amount to 7,752.85 million tonnes. The resources of exploited deposits, being equal 6,132.59 million tonnes, account for 31% of the total resources. These resources increased by 170.76 million tonnes in comparison with 2019. Non-exploited deposits contain 12,106.15 million tonnes (61%) of resources (the growth by 29.72 million tonnes), whereas resources of abandoned deposits are equal 1,721.88 million tonnes. The latter resources increased by 17.49 million tonnes.

The economic resources amounted in 2020 to 4,301.75 million tonnes and increased in comparison with the previous year by 132.93 million tonnes. The economic resources, established for the exploited deposits, are equal 3,626.75 million tonnes accounting for 59% 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 2020 was as follows:

Voivodeship/ Region
Developed resources
(million tonnes)
Anticipated economic Economic Anticipated economic of exploited deposits
Baltic Sea 86.16 85.21 48.43
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship 707.74 374.67 581.82
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 167.16 114.43 118.65
Lubelskie Voivodeship 149.50 77.04 131.28
Lubuskie Voivodeship 346.61 182.86 311.11
Łódzkie Voivodeship 351.44 208.63 229.41
Małopolskie Voivodeship 439.46 144.05 318.87
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 420.29 273.09 295.13
Opolskie Voivodeship 310.47 132.92 248.10
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 263.89 119.12 198.33
Podlaskie Voivodeship 845.91 548.22 493.95
Pomorskie Voivodeship 396.93 309.04 329.75
Śląskie Voivodeship 272.54 87.28 173.51
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 91.19 42.91 85.73
Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 433.84 355.41 308.68
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 486.00 295.45 336.13
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 363.47 276.44 242.60

In 2020, the output of sands and gravel amounted to 180.24 million tonnes. In comparison with the previous year it dropped by -2.57 million tonnes that is by 1.4%. The drop was significantly lower than in 2019 (7.2%). The exploitation decreased in 10 out of 16 Voivodeships. The demand for the raw materials dropped in every industry areas using sand and gravel: the infrastructure building sector, housing building sector and industrial building sector. The economic situation got worse i.e: the construction and assembly production drop, the reduction of the public auctions for the building works was recorded and there was of course the situation with COVID which affected the market. The biggest output drops were recorded in the following Voivodeship: Wielkopolskie, Małopolskie, Śląskie, Zachodniopomorskie, Opolskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie and Dolnośląskie. The output changes in 2020 in particular Voivodeships in 2020 is presented below:

The output in comparison with 2019
The difference
(thousand tonnes)
The difference
(%)
Total -2,570 -1.4
Łódzkie Voivodeship 2,064 22.5
Podlaskie Voivodeship 1,931 7.5
Lubuskie Voivodeship 1,181 25.0
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 1,118 7.5
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 603 6.5
Pomorskie Voivodeship 540 3.1
Baltic Sea 420 33.0
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship -269 -10.5
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship -276 -4.3
Lubelskie Voivodeship -361 -5.6
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship -1,086 -7.8
Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship -1,183 -7.6
Opolskie Voivodeship -1,193 -13.5
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship -1,301 -10.4
Śląskie Voivodeship -1,376 -15.4
Małopolskie Voivodeship -1,412 -10.6
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship -1,969 -16.4

The number of sands and gravel deposit in 2020 amounted to 10,672 including 2,643 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 (2,626 deposits) the number has increased. The number of non-exploited deposits increased by 150 (from 7,878 in 2019 to 8,029 in 2020). The structure of the deposits divided according to the output volume in particular Voivodeships in 2020 is presented below:

Voivodeship/Region
Output (thousand tonnes)
Exploited deposits
<50
50-200
200-500
500-1 000
>1,000
number
(%)
Baltic Sea 0 0 0 0 1 1 33
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship 67 28 14 6 0 115 24
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 111 26 4 1 0 142 20
Lubelskie Voivodeship 185 23 3 1 0 212 22
Lubuskie Voivodeship 42 14 5 3 0 64 23
Łódzkie Voivodeship 189 31 12 0 1 233 27
Małopolskie Voivodeship 41 24 17 5 0 87 23
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 330 47 7 5 1 390 27
Opolskie Voivodeship 22 8 7 7 0 44 22
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 136 43 9 1 0 189 25
Podlaskie Voivodeship 197 37 12 6 7 259 32
Pomorskie Voivodeship 102 48 14 2 2 168 22
Śląskie Voivodeship 27 10 8 5 0 50 17
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 52 8 1 0 0 61 30
Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 143 30 10 5 2 190 23
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 327 40 4 0 0 371 29
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 35 18 9 3 2 67 17
Total 2,006 435 136 50 16 2,643

The companies producing natural aggregates on Polish market are operating solely or are associated in groups. The carry on the exploitation in single or couple of plants, in the case of the biggest companies even in dozen or so. More than 1,300 companies (the most numerous in 2020) exploited below 50 thousand tonnes of the raw material. Their total contribution in the domestic output was 11% (about 20 million tonnes). The biggest contribution (about 72 million tonnes), that is almost 40% in the total domestic, had the group of 20 concession holders. Every single one from this group exploited at least 1 million tonnes, whereas the largest companies more than 5 million tonnes of the sandy-gravelly aggregates. The distribution in particular output scopes is as follows:

Output
<50
50-200
200-500
500-1,000
>1,000
Output (thousand tonnes) 20,088 38,146 28,572 21,821 71,613
Contribution in output (%) 11 21 16 12 40

Natural sands and gravel are also recovered during the exploitation of brown coal deposits. In 2020 the output of the raw material from non-documented deposits during the exploitation in the Bełchatów mine from the Szczerców field amounted to 275.89 thousand tonnes, whereas the output in Turów was equal 9.5 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 1989-2020.

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.


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

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