Mineral resources of Poland> Rock raw materials and others> Sand and gravel (natural aggregates)
English SelectedChange language to Polish

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. The 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 Quaternary age there are three genetic types: glacial, fluvioglacial and fluvial (river). They are characterized by a zonality of their 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 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 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 the northern and central Poland (Polish Lowlands), the most important are deposits of a glacial (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 Scandinavian material – debris of crystalline rocks and limestones with admixture of quartz and sandstones. In the 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 31.12.2016 totaled 19,016.48 million tonnes. The resources increased by 376.91 million tonnes (2.02%) in relation to the previous year. The growth dynamism increased in comparison with the previous year when it was equal 1.52%.

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 8,258.06 million tonnes (increased by 320.48 million tonnes in comparison with 2015) from which 2,247.21 million tonnes are within exploited deposits. The resources of graveled-sands and sandy-gravel sands with sand content between 30% and 75% amounted to 9,792.04 million tonnes (decreased by 20.60 million tonnes). The resources of gravel (with sand content <30%) amounted to 937.46 million tonnes (increased by 77.16 million tonnes) and the resources of loamy sands amounted to 28.75 million tonnes (decreased by 0.07 million tonnes).

The resources increased due to:

  • including in "The balance…" 485 new deposits documented in 2016 with anticipated economic resources equal 539.99 million tonnes. The largest resources where documented within 53 deposits in Pomorskie Voivodeship with resources equal 79.19 million tonnes. The largest deposits are: Góra VI (8.80 million tonnes), Rozłazino VIII (7.75 million tonnes), Żelazno (5.89 million tonnes) and Kębłowo Nowowiejskie IV (5.72 million tonnes). Except of these, there were also 19 new deposits documented with the resources in the range of 1.1-4.6 million tonnes. The second largest, taking into account the resources amount, are 36 deposits documented in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship with resources amounted to 57.37 million tonnes. The biggest are: Chrostkowo Nowe (29.72 million tonnes), Wrzosy I (8.60 million tonnes) and Konopat II (3.38 million tonnes). In Mazowieckie Voivodeship, there were 53.89 million tonnes of resources documented within 57 deposits i.a.: Trojanów (6.39 million tonnes), Rudno Jeziorowe VIII (4.51 million tonnes), Prosienica II/2 (4.22 million tonnes). Moreover, among the biggest deposits there are also Stróża Północ (12.94 million tonnes) located in Dolnosląskie Voivodeship and Sępólno Wielkie V (12.82 million tonnes) in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. The least resources were documented in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship (4.80 million tonnes within 6 deposits), Lubuskie Voivodeship (10.80 million tonnes within 9 deposits) and in Opolskie Voivodeship (13.60 million tonnes within 6 deposits). In 2016 there were also 7.42 million tonnes of anticipated sub-economic resources documented in Poland;
  • the verifications and resources updating, resulting from: the enlargement of a deposit area or deepening of its range, resources updating due to the long-term exploitation, the change of resources utilization or resources settlement after new deposits allocation within already documented deposits. The largest increases were recorded in deposits: Żabi Róg (resources increase equal 6.89 million tonnes) and Kanigowo VII (6.17 million tonnes) in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeships; Ginawa (5.42 million tonnes) and Bielinek III-pole W (2.80 million tonnes) in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship; siedlakowice I (6.59 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship; Biała Woda VIII (4.56 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship; Skórowo Nowe (4.64 million tonnes), Linia II (3.60 million tonnes), Gostomie X (3.10 million tonnes) in Pomorskie Voivodeship; Kaszczor II (2.83 million tonnes) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship; Wygoda (2.24 million tonnes) in Lubelskie Voivodeship; Guty-Bujno (2.54 million tonnes) in Mazowieckie Voivodeship. The resources decreases due to the new documentation with recalculated resources were recorded for i.a.: Łęgowo deposit (-8.88 million tonnes) in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, Brzegi (-7.26 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Turze (-7.15 million tonnes) and Racibórz I-Zbiornik (-2.74 million tonnes) in Śląskie Voivodeship, Żelazna II (-5.46 million tonnes) in Opolskie Voivodeship, Stężyca (-5.13 million tonnes) in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Paniowice (-4.75 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Rudno Jeziorowe (-3.54 million tonnes) in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Dargocice (-3.35 million tonnes) in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship and Wierzbowo-Mareckie (-2.00 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship;
  • the balance of decreases and increases recorded in the new documentation with recalculated resources approved for already documented deposits and as a result of the current resources verification connected with the exploitation – about 66.5 million tonnes.

The resources decreased by:

  • the output (173.18 million tonnes);
  • crossing out 205 deposits from "The balance…" with total resources equal about 56.56 million tonnes. The largest amount of resources were deleted from i.a.: Wymysłów II deposit (-4.00 million tonnes) in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Stróża Dolna (-3.91 million tonnes) in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, Templewo I (-4.23 million tonnes) and Nowa Niedrzwica KW (-3.25 million tonnes) in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Urbanice (-1.99 million tonnes) in Łódzkie Voivodeship, Telaki VII (-1.60 million tonnes) in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Łętowice (-1.43 million tonnes) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Bilwinki (-1.20 million tonnes) in Podlaskie Voivodeship. In other deposits there were resources of several thousands to about one milion tonnes deleted.

The table below shows changes within anticipated economic resources in particular voivodeships in 2016.

(thousand tonnes)
(thousand tonnes)
Dolnośląskie 75,247 1. Lubuskie -14,901
Pomorskie 71,648 2. Śląskie -4,421
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 50,793 3. Baltic Sea -584
Wielkopolskie 37,027  
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 36,221  
Zachodniopomorskie 35,762  
Mazowieckie 27,631  
Lubelskie 13,744  
Łódzkie 12,644  
Podkarpackie 12,302  
Podlaskie 12,145  
Małopolskie 7,599  
Opolskie 4,065  
Świętokrzyskie 9  
Total increase 396,837 Total decrease -19,906

The most deposits are located in Mazowieckie (1,308), Wielkopolskie (1,162), Lubelskie (907), Łódzkie (847) and Warmińsko-Mazurskie (758) Voivodeships.

Voivodeships with the biggest resources are: Dolnośląskie (2,288 million tonnes), Małopolskie (1,854 million tonnes), Podlaskie (1,536 million tonnes), Opolskie (1,398 million tonnes), Podkarpackie (1,295 million tonnes) and Mazowieckie (1,262 million tonnes).

Deposits of sand and gravel contain resources from several thousands to more than 380 million tonnes. The percentage contribution of resources within particular ranges is presented below:

(million tonnes)
Resources (million tonnes)
Percentage contribution
1,020 5.36%
777 4.09%
3,674 19.32%
2,340 12.31%
6,162 32.40%
5,043 26.52%

Resources within deposits covered by a detailed exploration (A, B, C1) amounted to 11,188.71 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%. Resources within exploited deposits amounted to 5,899.21 million tonnes and increased by 429.16 million tonnes in comparison with 2015 (they account for 31% of the total anticipated economic resources), resources within non-exploited deposits amounted to 11,698.93 million tonnes (62% of total resources) and decreased by 41.67 million tonnes, whereas the resources within abandoned deposits accounts for 7.5% of total resources (1,418.33 million tonnes) and decreased by 10.6 million tonnes.

In 2016, the production of natural sands and gravel amounted to 173.18 million tonnes, increasing by 5.25 million tonnes (that is 3.1%) in relation to the previous year. The output grew in 8 out of 16 voivodeships. The production increased in the regions where investments in road building industry were carried out. The table below shows changes within the production in particular voivodeships in 2016 in comparison with 2015 (thousand tonnes).

The output in comparison with 2015
(thousand tonnes)
TOTAL 5,247 3.1
Mazowieckie 4,514 37.5
Dolnośląskie 2,552 17.8
Pomorskie 2,453 16.0
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 1,526 9.5
Śląskie 1,031 10.8
Wielkopolskie 988 8.6
Lubuskie 830 16.2
Opolskie 575 8.1
Baltic Sea 165 34.0
Świętokrzyskie -137 -6.3
Lubelskie -197 -4.4
Kujawsko-Pomorskie -214 -4.0
Zachodniopomorskie -362 -3.3
Podlaskie -1,172 -5.5
Małopolskie -1,709 -12.4
Podkarpackie -2,239 -24.9
Łódzkie -3,357 -35.9

Figure below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sand and gravel in Poland in the years 1989-2016.

Natural sand and gravel are also obtained during the exploitation of brown coal deposits. In 2016 the output of sand and sand and gravel from non-documented deposits during the exploitation of Bełchatów-pole Szczerców deposit amounted to 8.46 thousand tonnes.

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