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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: coarse aggregate group, comprising gravels and sand-gravel mix, and that of fine aggregates – comprising sands. Natural aggregates are used mainly in the building (concrete fill) and road construction (embankment and highway fill and road surfacing).

The demand for natural coarse aggregates is the largest, especially as distribution of their resources is far from uniform. The resources of natural coarse aggregates are generally small in central parts of the country, not covering the local demand.

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 raw material (especially its homogeneity) depends largely on genetic type of a given deposit. Deposits of fluvial origin clearly predominate in the Carpathian-Sudetic zone (southern Poland). In the Sudety Mts, the most common deposits are those of sandy-gravel higher terraces of the Pleistocene age, built mainly of detritus of sandstones and crystalline rocks. In turn, in the Carpathian region the raw material basis mainly comprises 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 predominance of material coming from disintegration of flysch rocks, except for those of the Dunajec River valley, showing fairly high contribution of crystalline rocks from the Tatry Mts.

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

According to criteria of Polish classification of reserves/resources adopted in 2005, sand and gravel deposits should be characterized by content of grains of silt fraction below 15 %, thickness not smaller than 2 m and the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 1.0.

Sand and gravel deposits occurence 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 totaled 17,232.56 million tonnes in the end of 2011. This means an increase by 480.14 million tonnes in relation to the previous year. That was mainly due to 764 new deposits documented in 2011 with anticipated economic resources amounted to 710.5 million tonnes. The largest resources were documented in podkarpackie voivodeship (125.8 million tonnes within 134 new deposits), lubuskie voivodeship (78.6 million tonnes within 23 new deposits), łódzkie voivodeship (67.1 million tonnes within 106 new deposits), zachodniopomorskie voivodeship (62.5 million tonnes within 12 new deposits).

There were 192 deposits crossed out of the “Balance…” with anticipated economic resources amounted to 31.7 million tonnes.

The table below shows changes within anticipated economic resources in particular voivodeships in 2011 (thousand tonens).

increase: decrease:
1. podkarpackie
97,866
1. podlaskie
-1,715
2. lubuskie
72,486
2. Baltic Sea
-569
3. łódzkie
71,655
4. pomorskie
53,354
5. zachodniopomorskie
45,396
6. warmińsko-mazurskie
33,138
7. mazowieckie
33,02
8. dolnośląskie
22,587
9. opolskie
12,324
10. lubelskie
10,909
11. wielkopolskie
8,892
12. kujawsko-pomorskie
6,744
13. małopolskie
5,524
14. śląskie
4,928
15. świętokrzyskie
3,604
Total increase (+)
482,431
Total decrease (-)
-2,284

The most deposits are located in mazowieckie (1,171), wielkopolskie (982), lubelskie (792), podkarpackie (744) and łódzkie (700) voivodeship.

Resources within deposits covered by detailed exploration (A+B+C1) amounted to 9,194.8 million tonnes and states for 53.4 % of the total anticipated economic resources, with resources within deposits covered by preliminary exploration (C2) states for 46.6 %. Resources within exploited deposits amounted to 4,714.38 million tonnes (27.4 % of the total anticipated economic resources).

Economic resources amounted to 3,030.71 38 million tonnes and increased by 327.1 million tonnes in comparison with the previous year.

In 2011, production of natural sands and gravel rose to 248.7 million tonnes, increasing by 85.2 million tonnes, that is 52.2 % in relation to the previous year. The production increased in 15 voivodeship (out of 16). The table below shows changes within production in particular voivodeships in 2011 (thousand tonnes).

Increase of production
%
(thousand tonnes)
podkarpackie             
14,619
162.6
łódzkie                 
13,565
126.8
kujawsko-pomorskie      
8,246
39.5
mazowieckie             
8,147
55.4
podlaskie               
7,301
49.4
dolnośląskie            
7,169
44.5
małopolskie             
6,463
44
warmińsko-mazurskie     
6,02
81.2
lubuskie                
4,073
58.7
lubelskie               
3,057
52.4
śląskie                 
2,824
14.2
wielkopolskie           
1,751
23
opolskie                
1,524
24.3
świętokrzyskie          
639
0
zachodniopomorskie     
92
0.8
pomorskie               
-810
-6.1
Total
85,248
52.2

Figure below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sand and gravel in Poland in the years 1989 - 2011.

Natural sand and gravel are also obtained during the exploitation of Brown coal. In 2011 from Bełchatów deposit the output of sand and gravel amounted to 486 thousand tonnes.

Prepared by: Alina Piotrowska, Janina Dyląg, Wojciech Miśkiewicz, Krzysztof Żukowski