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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 sand-gravel aggregates are differentiated: a coarse aggregate group, comprising gravels and sand-gravel mix, and that of fine aggregates – comprising sands. Sand deposits in Poland are usually evenly arranged and only southern voivodeships are characterized by their shortage. The course aggregates deposits – particularly marketable – occur unevenly and especially the central voivodeships are characterized by the deficiency.

The bulk of Polish natural aggregate deposits are of the Quaternary age. The share of deposits of the Pliocene, Miocene and Liassic age is subordinate.

The quality of a raw material (especially its homogeneity) depends largely on a genetic type of a given deposit. Among 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 Poland, in the Carpathian-Sudetic zone, the most common are deposits of the fluvial origin. In the Sudety Mts., the most common deposits are those of sandy-gravel higher terraces of the Pleistocene age, built mainly of the detritus of sandstones and crystalline rocks. In turn, in the Carpathian region the raw material basis comprises mainly gravel and sandy gravel 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 crystalline rocks from the Tatry Mts.

In northern and central Poland (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 gravel-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.

According to the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of the 1st of July 2015 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 grains of silt fraction below 10%, while a sand, graveled-sand and sandy-gravel deposit with the sand content below 75% should be characterized by the thickness not smaller than 2 m, the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 1.0 and the content of grains 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.

Anticipated economic resources of natural aggregates as of 31.12.2017 totaled 19,253.77 million tonnes. The resources increased by 237.29 million tonnes (1.25%) in relation to the previous year. The growth dynamism decreased in comparison with the previous year when it was equal 2.02%.

Sand and gravel deposits have being documented within 4 subtypes: sand, sand and gravel, gravel, loamy and silty sand. The resources of sands with the sand content above 75% amounted to 8,530.89 million tonnes (increased by 272.83 million tonnes in comparison with 2016) from which 2,396.27 million tonnes are within exploited deposits. The resources of graveled-sands and sandy-gravel sands with the sand content between 30% and 75% amounted to 9,694.30 million tonnes (decreased by 97.74 million tonnes). The resources of gravel (with the sand content <30%) amounted to 998.79 million tonnes (increased by 61.33 million tonnes) and the resources of loamy and silty sands amounted to 29.69 million tonnes (increased by 0.94 million tonnes).

The resources increased due to:

  • The including in “The balance…” 390 new deposits documented in 2017 with anticipated economic resources equal above 424.02 million tonnes. The largest resources where documented within 59 deposits in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship with resources equal 54.54 million tonnes. The largest deposits are: Igrzyna (7.95 million tonnes), Popowo I (7.68 million tonnes), Kaszczor KR V (6.14 million tonnes). The anticipated economic resources documented in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship in 2017 fall into the interval between 0.04 million tonnes and 8 million tonnes. Within 14 deposits with resources from about 1 million tonnes to 8 million tonnes there were almost 42 million tonnes of sand and gravel documented. The second largest, taking into account the resources volume, are 29 deposits documented in Podlaskie Voivodeship with resources equal 51.87 million tonnes. Among them the biggest deposits are: Kuków XII (30.85 million tonnes), Kisielnica II (4.81 million tonnes), Mroczki Stylągi II (1.94 million tonnes). In Pomorskie Voivodeship there were 50.81 million tonnes of anticipated economic resources within 30 new deposits documented. The most important are: Demlin VIII (8.8 million tonnes), Gapowo XIX (7.44 million tonnes), Kębłowo Nowowiejskie V (4.75 million tonnes), Gostomie XIV (4.5 million tonnes), Rychnowy II (4.22 million tonnes). Aside from deposits mentioned above, in Pomorskie Vovivodeship there were 25 new deposits documented with total anticipated economic resources equal 21 million tonnes – within the resources range from 16 thousand tonnes to 3.6 million tonnes. Moreover, among the biggest deposits there are also: Topola-Śrem (20.96 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship and Bierawa 2 (9.8 million tonnes) in Opolskie Voivodeship, Łapka 3 (9.3 million tonnes) and Szczepankowo (6.75 million tonnes) in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, Dołha 2 (9.27 million tonnes), Górka Lubartowska-Niedźwiada (4.84 million tonnes) in Lubelskie Voivodeship. The least anticipated economic resources i.e. 1.43 million tonnes within 6 deposits were documented in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, 10.7 million tonnes within 9 deposits in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship and 12.54 million tonnes within 12 deposits in Lubuskie Voivodeship. In 2017 there were also 6 million tonnes of anticipated sub-economic resources documented – Pęglity deposit located in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship classified previously to building ceramics raw materials was reclassified to sand and gravel.
  • The verification and resources updating, resulting from the enlargement of a deposit area or the deepening of its range, the resources updating due to the long-term exploitation, the change of resources utilization or resources settlement after the new deposits allocation within already documented deposits. The largest resources increases were recorded in the following deposits: Dębowiec IV (30.3 million tonnes) in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Bobrowniki-Drahle (8.04 million tonnes), Drahle VIII (2.7 million tonnes) and Janowszczyzna X (2.19 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Kuźnica Czarnkowska MD (6.17 million tonnes) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship, Chróścice 4 (4.23 million tonnes) in Opolskie Voivodeship, Nowa Biała-Zagrody (2.82 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Przecław (2.25 million tonnes) in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Węsiory (2.85 million tonnes) in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Gąsów (2.55 million tonnes) in Mazowieckie Voivodeship). The anticipated economic resources drops caused by the new documentation with recalculated resources were recorded for i.a.: Legnica-pole Wschodnie – the former name Legnica-p.E (-4.24 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Górka Lubartowska (-4 million tonnes) in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Deszczno-Łagodzin (-3.92 million tonnes) in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Haczów (-2.93 million tonnes) in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Rękoraj (-2.06 million tonnes) in Łódzkie Voivodeship.
  • The balance of the resources decreases and increases estimated in the new documentations with recalculated resources elaborated for already documented deposits and as a result of the current resources verification connected with the exploitation – about 46 million tonnes.

The resources decreased by:

  • The output (186.30 million tonnes).
  • The crossing out 192 deposits from “The balance…” with the total anticipated economic resources equal about 46 million tonnes. The largest amount of the resources were deleted i.a. from the following deposits: Roztoka (-2.37 million tonnes), Wola Batorska-Grabina (-1.24 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Lasocin 1 (-2.03 million tonnes), Owczary (-1.64 million tonnes), Rudnica (-1.44 million tonnes) in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Wymysłowo TJ III (-1.61 million tonnes) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship, Nowa Wieś IX (-1.74 million tonnes) in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, Smolarzyny-1 (-1.65 million tonnes), Munina I-A (-1.36 million tonnes), Żupawa (-1.34 million tonnes) in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Wąsosz 6 (-1.24 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship.

The resources growth in Poland, similarly to the previous years, was the result of the increases in most of voivodeships. The table below shows changes within anticipated economic resources in particular voivodeships in 2017.

Increases (thousand tonnes)
Decreases (thousand tonnes)
Wielkopolskie 50,317 Zachodniopomorskie -8,635
Podlaskie 41,964 Małopolskie -3,879
Pomorskie 34,757 Świętokrzyskie -2,746
Lubuskie 27,635 Baltic Sea -23
Opolskie 20,729  
Mazowieckie 20,333  
Lubelskie 15,823  
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 14,376  
Łódzkie 8,522  
Dolnośląskie 8,299  
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 4,999  
Śląskie 4,033  
Podkarpackie 788  
Total increase 252,575 Total decrease -15,283

The biggest numbers of deposits are located in Mazowieckie (1,340), Wielkopolskie (1,205), Lubelskie (930), Łódzkie (843) and Warmińsko-Mazurskie (778) Voivodeships.

Voivodeships with the biggest resources are: Dolnośląskie (2,296 million tonnes), Małopolskie (1,850 million tonnes), Podlaskie (1,578 million tonnes), Opolskie (1,418 million tonnes), Podkarpackie (1,296 million tonnes) and Mazowieckie (1,283 million tonnes).

The number of sand and gravel deposits amounted to 2,659 exploited deposits in 2017. The percentage contribution of resources within particular ranges is presented below:

Voivodeship
Output (thousand tonnes)
Exploited deposits
<50
50-200
200-500
500-1,000
>1,000
Number of deposits
%
Baltic Sea 1 0 0 1 0 2 67
Dolnośląskie 64 28 15 7 1 115 25
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 115 16 4 2 0 137 19
Lubelskie 174 21 3 2 0 200 22
Lubuskie 44 19 3 3 0 69 26
Łódzkie 215 26 4 0 0 245 29
Małopolskie 59 30 18 5 0 112 28
Mazowieckie 332 41 13 7 1 394 29
Opolskie 27 12 7 5 0 51 28
Podkarpackie 134 30 9 0 0 173 23
Podlaskie 185 32 6 3 6 232 32
Pomorskie 93 39 8 6 2 148 22
Śląskie 35 16 8 2 2 63 22
Świętokrzyskie 49 9 1 1 0 60 29
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 150 26 18 5 2 201 26
Wielkopolskie 315 49 14 1 0 379 31
Zachodniopomorskie 35 21 12 7 3 78 22
Number of deposits 2,027 415 143 57 17 2,659 26

Resources within deposits covered by a detailed exploration (A, B, C1) amounted to 11,409.07 million tonnes and accounts for 59% of the total anticipated economic resources, with resources within deposits covered by a preliminary exploration (C2 and D categories) states for 41% - 7,844.69 million tonnes. Resources within exploited deposits amounted to 5,979.62 million tonnes and increased by 80.41 million tonnes in comparison with 2016 (they account for 31% of the total anticipated economic resources), resources within non-exploited deposits amounted to 11,778.82 million tonnes (61% of total resources) and increased by 79.89 million tonnes, whereas the resources within abandoned deposits accounts for 7.8% of total resources (1,495.32 million tonnes) and increased by 5.43 million tonnes.

In 2017, the output of sands and gravel amounted to 186.30 million tonnes, increasing by 13.12 million tonnes (that is 7.6%) in relation to the previous year. The output grew in 12 out of 16 voivodeships. The output significantly increased in the regions where investments in the road building industry were carried out. The table below shows changes within the production in particular voivodeships in 2017 in comparison with 2016.

The output in comparison with 2016
Difference
(thousand tonnes)
Difference
(%)
Total 13,121 7.6
Zachodniopomorskie 8,058 75.8
Lubelskie 2,439 56.7
Wielkopolskie 2,086 16.7
Małopolskie 1,272 10.5
Mazowieckie 1,068 6.4
Podlaskie 698 3.5
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 642 12.5
Łódzkie 631 10.5
Podkarpackie 559 8.3
Świętokrzyskie 522 25.5
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 444 2.5
Baltic Sea -31 -4.8
Lubuskie -257 -4.3
Opolskie -299 -3.9
Śląskie -925 -8.8
Dolnośląskie -1,874 -11.1
Pomorskie -1,912 -10.8

Figure below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sand and gravel in Poland in the years 1989-2017.

Natural sand and gravel are also obtained during the exploitation of brown coal deposits. In 2017 the output of sand and gravel from non-documented deposits during the exploitation of Bełchatów-pole Szczerców deposit amounted to 340.78 thousand tonnes, whereas the output from Turów deposit amounted to 121.10 thousand tonnes.

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