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 homogenity) 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 the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of the 22nd of December 2011 (number of Polish act: Dz. U. Nr 291, poz. 1712.), sand deposits should be charcterized by content of grains of silt fraction below 10 %, thickness not smaller than 2 m and the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 0.3 while 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 17,972.50 million tonnes at the end of 2013. This means an increase by 237.36 million tonnes in relation to the previous year. That was mainly due to 464 new deposits documented in 2013 with anticipated economic resources amounted to 484.6 million tonnes. The largest resources were documented in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship (84.0 million tonnes within 43 new deposits), Dolnośląskie Voivodeship (80.3 million tonnes within 18 new deposits) and Pomorskie Voivodeship (72.8 million tonnes within 43 new deposits). There were also verifications of resources due to the changes of deposits boundaries and resources verifications, mainly in Długopole I deposit (resources increase equal 6.7 million tonnes), Kotlarnia pole Północne deposit (6.6 million tonnes), Dołha deposit (5.8 million tonnes) and Golice deposit (5.6 million tonnes).

There were 258 deposits crossed out of “The balance…” with anticipated economic resources amounted to 46.5 million tonnes.

The table below shows changes within anticipated economic resources in particular voivodeships in 2013 (thousand tonnes).

increase: decrease:
woj. dolnośląskie 69 354 1. woj. podkarpackie -14 313
woj. warmińsko-mazurskie 62 129 2. woj. lubuskie -6 864
woj. pomorskie 52 629 3. woj. małopolskie -4 554
woj. kujawsko-pomorskie 15 697 4. Bałtyk -298
woj. wielkopolskie 15 107  
woj. świętokrzyskie 11 616  
woj. lubelskie 11 505  
woj. zachodniopomorskie 7 792  
woj. podlaskie 7 580  
woj. łódzkie 5 273  
woj. mazowieckie 3 575  
woj. śląskie 583  
woj. opolskie 548  
Total increase (+)   Total decrease (-)  

The most deposits are located in Mazowieckie (1,222), Wielkopolskie (1,061), Lubelskie (862), Łódzkie (833) and Podkarpackie (774) Voivodeship.

Resources within deposits covered by detailed exploration (A, B, C1) amounted to 10,005.1 million tonnes and accounts for 55.7 % of the total anticipated economic resources, with resources within deposits covered by preliminary exploration (C2) states for 44.3 %. Resources within exploited deposits amounted to 5,455.8 million tonnes (30.4 % of the total anticipated economic resources) while resources within abandoned deposits accounts for 7.0 % of total rerources (1,262.7 million tonnes).

Economic resources amounted to 3,614.4 million tonnes and increased by 118.22 million tonnes in comparison with the previous year. The table below shows changes within economic resources in particular voivodeship in 2013 (thousand tonnes).

  increase: decrease:
woj. lubuskie 25 202 1. woj. małopolskie -12 814
woj. zachodniopomorskie 19 825 2. woj. opolskie -12 089
woj. łódzkie 16 470 3. Bałtyk -299
woj. dolnośląskie 14 680 4. woj. mazowieckie -176
woj. pomorskie 14 226  
woj. lubelskie 13 389  
woj. podlaskie 11 993  
woj. warmińsko-mazurskie 10 636  
woj. podkarpackie 5 605  
woj. śląskie 5 498  
woj. świętokrzyskie 3 917  
woj. wielkopolskie 1 361  
woj. kujawsko-pomorskie 791  
Total increase (+)   Total decrease (-)  

In 2013, production of natural sands and gravel amounted to 173.3 million tonnes, decreasing by 11.5 million tonnes that is 6.2 % less in relation to the previous year. The production decreased in most of the 16 voivodeships. The table below shows changes within production in particular voivodeships in 2013 (thousand tonnes).

Decrease of production in compariosn with 2012
(thousand tonnes)
podlaskie 6,530 45.1
łódzkie 2,260 10.4
kujawsko-pomorskie 900 18.6
opolskie 206 3.1
zachodniopomorskie 101 1.0
Baltic Sea 11 3.9
śląskie -515 -8.3
świętokrzyskie -722 -27.3
pomorskie -768 -6.5
lubelskie -783 -10.9
lubuskie -786 -12.5
warmińsko-mazurskie -864 -6.4
wielkopolskie -913 -7.7
mazowieckie -2,837 -18.3
małopolskie -3,660 -24.0
dolnośląskie -3,879 -27.9
podkarpackie -5,738 -25.1
Total -11,457 -6.2

Figure below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sand and gravel in Poland in the years 1989 - 2013.

Natural sand and gravel are also obtained during the exploitation of brown coal. In 2013 the output of sand and gravel from Bełchatów deposit amounted to 25.89 thousand tonnes.

Prepared by: Wojciech Miśkiewicz, Dariusz Brzeziński, Janina Dyląg, Marzena Kozera