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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 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 1st of July 2015 sand deposit with sand content above 75% should be characterized by thickness not smaller than 2 m, the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 0.3 and content of grains of silt fraction below 10%, while sand, graveled-sand and sandy-gravel deposit with sand content below 75% should be characterized by thickness not smaller than 2 m, the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 1.0 and content of grains of silt fraction below 15%.

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 31.12.2015 totaled 18,639.57 million tonnes. The resources increased by 278.67 million tonnes (1.52%) in relation to the previous year.

Sand and gravel deposits are being documented within 4 subtypes: sand, sand and gravel, gravel, loamy sand. The resources of sands with sand content above 75% amounted to 7,937.6 million tonnes (increased by 310 million tonnes in comparison with the previous year) from which 2,121.3 million tonnes are within exploited deposits. The resources of graveled-sands and sandy-gravel sands with sand content between 25 and 75% amounted to 9,812.6 million tonnes (increased by 42.1 million tonnes). The resources of gravel (with sand content <25%) amounted to 860.3 million tonnes (decreased by 77.2 million tonnes) and the resources of loamy sands amounted to 28.8 million tonnes (increased by 3.6 million tonnes).

The resources increased due to:

  • including in “The balance…” 450 new deposits documented in 2015 with anticipated economic resources equal 645.78 million tonnes. The largest resources where documented within 26 deposits in Podlaskie Voivodeship with resources equal 151.46 million tonnes. The largest deposits are: Bród Nowy VII (66.52 million tonnes), Kuków-Folwark XI (48.87 million tonnes) and Wąsocz 8 (22.78 million tonnes). The second largest, taking into account resources, are 44 deposits documented in Pomorskie Voivodeship with resources amounted to 138.02 million tonnes. The biggest are: Potęgowo II (17.77 million tonnes), Waplewo Wielkie IV (17.58 million tonnes), Nowy Barkoczyn IV (15.21 million tonnes) and Tuchom I (10 million tonnes). Moreover, there were also 12 new deposits documented within the rnage of 2-10 million tonnes of resources. In Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship, there were 81.61 million tonnes of resources documented within 23 deposits, i.a. Zarańsko (44.76 million tonnes) and Sowno (10.55 million tonnes). In Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship the new documented resources amounted to 56.04 million tonnes (42 deposits), including the largest ones – Botowo V (18.07 million tonnes) and Łęgowo VII (11.7 million tonnes). The largest new deposit in Małopolskie Voivodeship is Przyborów-Żwiry (9.72 million tonnes) and in Podkarpackie Voivodeship – Gniewczyna Tryniecka 2 (6.17 million tonnes) and Gniewczyna Tryniecka 3 (5.19 million tonnes). The least resources were documented in Świętokrzyskie and Opolskie Voivodeships – 1.36 million tonnes within 3 deposits and 1.21 million tonnes within 3 deposits respectively;
  • the verifications of resources due to the changes of deposits boundaries, updating of resources due to the long exploitation, the change of utilization or resources accounting after allocating of new deposits. The largest increases were recorded in: Wola Radłowska Grądy I (resources increase equal 26.81 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Walkowice MD (17.52 million tonnes) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship, Turze 1 (8.55 million tonnes) in Śląskie Voivodeship, Głębocko I-1 (7.73 million tonnes) in Opolskie Voivodeship, Kozin III (6.12 million tonnes) in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Racewo (6.27 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Dzwonek (6.23 million tonnes) and Sitki I (3.7 million tonnes) in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Jezierzyce Wielkie I (5.39 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship and Ognica (3.17 million tonnes) in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. The resources decreases due to the new documentation with recalculated resources were recorded for i.a. Borowiec (-25.45 million tonnes) and Potęgowo (-20.64 million tonnes) deposits in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Deszczno-Łagodzin (-32.16 million tonnes) deposit in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Szczytniki - pola A, B, C, D (-6.24 million tonnes) deposit in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Wąsosz 3 - p.A-D (-3.43 million tonnes) and Wąsosz 2 (-4.74 million tonnes) deposits in Podlaskie Voivodeship and Niemce-Rokitno II-SW (-2.68 million tonnes) deposit in Lubelskie Voivodeship.

The resources decreased by:

  • the output (167.93 million tonnes);
  • crossing out 255 deposits from "The balance…” with total resources equal 117.47 million tonnes. The largest amount of resources were deleted from i.a. Winna Góra (-26.87 million tonnes) and Pobiel (-3.64 million tonnes) deposits in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Wola Radłowska Grądy II-Brzeźnica (-26.88 million tonnes) deposit in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Głębocko II (-5.18 million tonnes) deposit in Opolskie Voivodeship, Racewo II (-7.86 million tonnes) deposit in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Wietrznica (-5 million tonnes) deposit in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Nowy Dwór I (-4.68 million tonnes) deposit in Śląskie Voivodeship and Biały Dwór (-3 million tonnes) deposit in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. In other deposits there were resources of several thousand to abort one million tonnes deleted;
  • approving new documentations with reassessed resources (-82.0 million tonnes).

The table below shows changes within anticipated economic resources in particular voivodeships in 2015.

No.
Increase
(thousand tonnes)
No.
Decrease
(thousand tonnes)
1.
Podlaskie 112,638 1. Dolnośląskie -79,501
2.
Pomorskie 76,220 2. Lubuskie -25,026
3.
Zachodniopomorskie 72,886 3. Opolskie -10,423
4.
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 42,968 4. Łódzkie -3,207
5.
Wielkopolskie 31,584 5. Małopolskie -3,509
6.
Mazowieckie 24,063 6. Baltic Sea -390
7.
Lubelskie 14,294  
8.
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 10,659  
9.
Śląskie 10,054  
10.
Podkarpackie 5,269  
11.
Świętokrzyskie 87  

The most deposits are located in Mazowieckie (1,274), Wielkopolskie (1,131), Lubelskie (893), Łódzkie (847) and Podkarpackie (746) Voivodeships.

Voivodeships with the biggest resources are: Dolnośląskie (2,212 million tonnes), Małopolskie (1,846 million tonnes), Podlaskie (1,524 million tonnes), Opolskie (1,393 million tonnes), Podkarpackie (1,283 million tonnes) and Mazowieckie (1,235 million tonnes).

Resources within deposits covered by detailed exploration (A, B, C1 categories) amounted to 10,813.38 million tonnes and accounts for 58% of the total anticipated economic resources, with resources within deposits covered by preliminary exploration (C2 and D categories) states for 42%. Resources within exploited deposits amounted to 5,470.05 million tonnes and decreased by 53.7 million tonnes in comparison with 2014 (they account for 29.35% of the total anticipated economic resources), resources within non-exploited deposits amounted to 11,740.60 million tonnes (63% of total resources) and increased by 194 million tonnes, whereas the resources within abandoned deposits accounts for 7.7% of total resources (1,425.89 million tonnes) and increased by 135.4 million tonnes.

In 2015, production of natural sands and gravel amounted to 167.93 million tonnes, increasing by 21.4 million tonnes (that is 14.6%) in relation to the previous year (table 2). After three years of decreasing, the output grew in 14 out of 16 Voivodeships. It was due to the growing investments in road building industry. The table below shows changes within production in particular voivodeships in 2015 (thousand tonnes).

Changes in production in comparison with 2014
(thousand tonnes) (%)
Total 21,402 14.6
Pomorskie 5,810 61.0
Wielkopolskie 2,734 31.1
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 2,227 16.1
Łódzkie 2,058 28.2
Dolnośląskie 1,950 15.7
Śląskie 1,673 21.3
Lubuskie 1,441 39.2
Podlaskie 1,267 6.3
Małopolskie 856 6.6
Zachodniopomorskie 802 7.9
Podkarpackie 485 5.7
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 407 8.3
Opolskie 283 4.2
Świętokrzyskie 233 11.9
Mazowieckie -125 -1.0
Baltic Sea -287 -37.2
Lubelskie -412 -8.4

Figure below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sand and gravel in Poland in the years 1989-2015.

Natural sand and gravel are also obtained during the exploitation of brown coal. In 2015 the output of sand and gravel from Bełchatów deposit amounted to 8.6 thousand tonnes.

Prepared by: Wojciech Miśkiewicz, Dariusz Brzeziński, Joanna Stawierej, Agnieszka Wałkuska