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

The bulk of Polish natural sand and gravel deposits are of the Quaternary age. The share of deposits of the older formations: Pliocene, Miocene and Liassic in the age is subordinate.

The quality of a raw material, and especially the deposits 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 part of Poland, in the Carpathian-Sudetic zone, the most common are deposits of the fluvial (river) origin. In the Sudety Mts., the deposits of sandy-gravel higher terraces of the Pleistocene age prevail, built mainly of the crystalline rocks and sandstones. In turn, in the Carpathian region the raw material basis comprises mainly gravelly and sandy-gravelly 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 the crystalline rocks from the Tatry Mts.

In northern and central Poland – on the 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 gravelly-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 regarding the geological documentation of a raw material deposit, excluding a hydrocarbons field , establishing the limit values of the parameters that define the deposit and its borders, 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 silt fraction below 10%, while a sand, gravelly-sandy and sandy-gravelly deposit with the sand content below 75% should be characterized by the thickness not smaller than 2 m, with the ratio of cover to deposit series not higher than 1.0 and the content 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 31.12.2018 totaled 19,470.38 million tonnes. The resources increased by 216.61 million tonnes (1.13%) in relation to the previous year. The growth dynamism decreased in comparison with the previous year when it was equal 1.25%.

Natural sandy-gravelly aggregates have being documented within 4 subtypes: sands, sands with gravel, gravel, loamy and silty sands. The resources of sands with the sand content above 75% amounted to 8,715.08 million tonnes (increased by 184.2 million tonnes in comparison with 2017) from which 2,480.21 million tonnes are within exploited deposits. The resources of gravelly-sandy and sandy-gravelly aggregates with the sand content between 30% and 75% amounted to 9,728.91 million tonnes (the groth by 34.61 million tonnes). The resources of gravel (with the sand content <30%) amounted to 996.82 million tonnes (the drop by 1.97 million tonnes) and the resources of silty, loamy sands amounted to 29.56 million tonnes (the drop by 0.13 million tonnes).

In particular Voivodeship the distribution of the anticipated economic resources (in million tonnes) of natural aggregates subtypes as of the end of 2018 was as follows:

Voivodeship/ Region
Sand Sand
with gravel
Gravel Silty,
loamy sand
Baltic Sea 0 136 0 0
Dolnośląskie 551 1,600 146 14
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 369 46 0 0
Lubelskie 994 21 0 0
Lubuskie 602 564 0 0
Łódzkie 574 148 0 0
Małopolskie 93 1,187 545 0
Mazowieckie 1,036 278 0 0
Opolskie 176 1,077 152 1
Podkarpackie 671 542 84 5
Podlaskie 121 1,535 0 0
Pomorskie 651 476 0 2
Śląskie 360 439 67 0
Świętokrzyskie 622 21 2 0
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 316 975 1 0
Wielkopolskie 896 168 0 1
Zachodniopomorskie 683 517 0 6

The resources increased due to:

  • The including into “The balance…” 370 newly documented deposits with the total resources equal above 477.88 million tonnes. In 2018, the largest resources amount: 112.36 million tonnes (50 new deposits) was documented in Podlaskie Voivodeship. The biggest deposits are as follows: Drahle-Bohoniki (37.32 million tonnes), Bohoniki III (36.44 million tonnes), Ciemianka II (6.68 million tonnes), Stare Konopki (3.58 million tonnes), Kobylin I (2.32 million tonnes), Grzymały (2.24 million tonnes), Kuków XIII (2.09 million tonnes). The resources of the 9 biggest deposits amount to above 94 million tonnes that is 84% of the total resources documented in the Voivodeship. The remaining resources of 12.3 million tonnes in the volume (the range 0.5-1 million tonnes) are within 16 deposits and the resources of 5.8 million tonnes in the volume are within 24 deposits (mostly above 100 thousand tonnes). In the second best Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, there were above 84 million tonnes of sands and gravel within 25 deposits documented. The deposits resources are in the range between about 90 thousand tonnes and 25 million tonnes. The biggest of these deposits are as follows: Prostki-Niedźwieckie (24.99 million tonnes), Jabłonowo I (16.55 million tonnes), Botowo VII (12.72 million tonnes), Kalbornia-Mosznica 1 (6.27 million tonnes), Botowo VI (5.02 million tonnes). From all of the newly documented resources in the Voivodeship 92% are within 10 deposits with the resources volume between 1 million tonnes and 25 million tonnes. In third place, in terms of newly documented resources, there is Mazowieckie Voivodeship: 38.9 million tonnes (54 deposits). The biggest new deposits are: Stylągi I (9.09 million tonnes), Kondrajec Szlachecki (6.44 million tonnes), Rudno Jeziorowie IX (3.06 million tonnes), Kamień I (2.39 million tonnes). The 11 new deposits contain more than 30 million tonnes, while the remaining 43 deposits above 12 million tonnes. Moreover, among the biggest deposits there are also: Białobrzezie (19.15 million tonnes) and Biała (5.52 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship; Chrostkowo Nowe II (5.76 million tonnes) located in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship; Gryżyce II (13.37 million tonnes) located in Lubuskie Voivodeship; Bądków (6.39 million tonnes) located in Łódzkie Voivodeship; Bukówka (8.58 million tonnes) and Gołębiewko IV (7.21 million tonnes) located in Pomorskie Voivodeship; Dargocice II (6.49 million tonnes), Biała I (6.28 million tonnes) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. The smallest resources amount i.e. 1.03 million tonnes (in 4 deposits) was documented in Opolskie Voivodeship, moreover there were 4 million tonnes (in 3 deposits) and 5.26 million tonnes (in 3 deposits) documented in Śląskie and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeships, respectively. Trąbki 1 deposit located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship, previously enlisted in sands for the production of the lime-sand bricks, was reclassified as sands and gravel. In 2018, there were also 8.16 million tonnes of anticipated sub-economic resources documented. Most of them in Rakowo Piskie II (3.86 million tonnes) and Stare Konopki (1.55 million tonnes) located in Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Podlaskie Voivodeships, respectively.
  • The verification and updating of resources due to the deposit area enlargement or deepening of its range, the resources updating as a result of a longtime exploitation, the change of a deposit usage and its designation in the site management plans wihitn the borders of which the deposit was documented, or the resources settlement after an allocation of new deposits documented within the area of previously explored. The most significant resources growths were recorded for the following deposits: Mosty (6.79 million tonnes) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship; Prosienica II/2 (5.13 million tonnes) and Pieńki (4.11 million tonnes) located in Mazowieckie Voivodeship; Ludkowo VII (3.65 million tonnes) located in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship; Jerzmanowice (3.51 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship; Radachów (2.84 million tonnes) located in Lubuskie Voivodeship; Wólka Gościeradowska (2.74 million tonnes) located in Lubelskie Voivodeship; Grzybowo – Lizaki (2.76 million tonnes) located in Pomorskie Voivodeship; Samborzec (2.33 million tonnes) and Brody Iłżeckie 1 (2.21 million tonnes) located in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship; Szałstry I (2.22 million tonnes) located in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship; Dęby Szlacheckie-I (2.11 million tonnes) located in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship.

The resources decreased by:

  • The output (197.01 million tonnes).
  • The crossing 199 aggregate deposits out from the domestic resources balance – about 42.5 million tonnes in total. The biggest resources volumes were crossed out from the i.a. deposits: Suków II (-4.09 million tonnes) and Brody Iłżeckie (-1.02 million tonnes) located in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship; Bohoniki II (-2.78 million tonnes) and Duchny Wieluny (-1.03 million tonnes) located in Podlaskie Voivodeship; Goliszów (-2.69 million tonnes) and Jakuszów (-1.16 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship; Lubieszów (-2.01 million tonnes) in Opolskie Voivodeship; Dźwierzno J 1 (-1.16 million tonnes) located in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship; Woliczno W (-1.1 million tonnes) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship; Kowala Duszocina (-1.06 million tonnes) located in Mazowieckie Voivodeship.
  • The new documentation with recalculated (decreased) resources elaborated for i.a. deposits: Przyborów-Żwiry (-8.38 million tonnes) and Brzegi (-2.90 million tonnes) located in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Kalbornia-Mosznica (-6.17 million tonnes), Ruś (-2.19 million tonnes) and Jabłonowo (-2.16 million tonnes) located in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, Racibórz II-Zbiornik (-4.85 million tonnes) located in Śląskie Voivodeship; Górka Lubartowska (-4.40 million tonnes) located in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Gostomie III (-4.38 million tonnes) located in Pomorskie Voivodeship, Nowogród Bobrzański – Zbiornik (-3.74 million tonnes) and Miodnica (-2.37 million tonnes) located in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Legnica-pole Wschodnie (-2.27 million tonnes) located in Dolnośląskie Voivodeship.
  • The balance of resources decreases and increases specified in the new documentation with recalculated resources and resources changes being the result of the current resources verification due to the exploitation – about -22 million tonnes.

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 2018 (thousand tonnes).

(thousand tonnes)
(thousand tonnes)
Podlaskie Voivodeship 78,581 Baltic Sea -526
Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 56,021 Opolskie Voivodeship -11,660
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 30,571 Śląskie Voivodeship -12,784
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 22,951 Małopolskie Voivodeship -23,735
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 17,672  
Łodzkie Voivodeship 14,573  
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship 13,992  
Pomorskie Voivodeship 7,402  
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 7,333  
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 6,482  
Lubelskie Voivodeship 4,421  
Lubuskie Voivodeship 3,273  
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 2,038  
Total increases 265,312 Total decreases -48,705

The biggest numbers of deposits are nowadays documented in the following Voivodeships: Mazowieckie (1,379), Wielkopolskie (1,220), Lubelskie (955), Łódzkie (859) and Warmińsko-Mazurskie (795).

The Voivodeships with the biggest documented resources are: Dolnośląskie (2,310 million tonnes), Małopolskie (1,826 million tonnes), Podlaskie (1,656 million tonnes), Opolskie (1,407 million tonnes), Podkarpackie (1,302 million tonnes) and Mazowieckie (1,313 million tonnes).

The resources of deposits covered by a detailed exploration (A, B and C1 categories) are equal 11,652.65 million tonnes and account for 60% of the total resources. The resources covered by the preliminary exploration (C2 and D categories) account for 40% of the total resources and amount to 7,817.73 million tonnes. The resources of exploited deposits, being equal 6,001.23 million tonnes, account for 31% of the total resources. These resources increased by 21.61 million tonnes in comparison with 2017. Non-exploited deposits contain 11,909.11 million tonnes (61%) of resources (the growth by 130.30 million tonnes), whereas resources of abandoned deposits are equal 1,560.03 million tonnes. The latter resources increased by 64.71 million tonnes.

In 2018, the output of sands and gravel amounted to 197.01 million tonnes. In comparison with the previous year it growth by 10.71 million tonnes that is 5.7%. The exploitation increased from 11 out of 16 Voivodeship and from the Baltic Sea area. The output volume is strictly connected with the road investments sector where the demand for the raw material is significant. Therefore, the production grew in the regions in which the building process of domestic roads, expressways and highways was being carried out. The output changes in 2018 in particular Voivodeships is presented below:

The output in comparison with 2017
The difference
(thousand tonnes)
The difference
Total 10,708 5.7
Podlaskie Voivodeship 4,151 20.0
Pomorskie Voivodeship 3,303 20.8
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 3,252 56.5
Łódzkie Voivodeship 1,334 20.1
Opolskie Voivodeship 928 12.6
Śląskie Voivodeship 807 8.4
Dolnośląskie Voivodeship 800 5.3
Podkarpackie Voivodeship 334 4.6
Mazowieckie Voivodeship 237 1.3
Baltic Sea 209 33.8
Lubuskie Voivodeship 24 0.4
Małopolskie Voivodeship 11 0.1
Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship -343 -1.9
Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship -541 -21.0
Lubelskie Voivodeship -713 -10.6
Wielkopolskie Voivodeship -1,539 -10.5
Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship -1,547 -8.3

The number of sands and gravel deposit in 2018 amounted to 10,295 including 2,667 of exploited deposits. In comparison with the previous year (2,659 deposits) the number has slightly changed. The number of non-exploited deposits increased by 170 (from 7,458 in 2017 to 7,628 in 2018) that is more or less the total growth. The structure of the deposits divided according to the output volume in particular Voivodeships is presented below:

Voivodeship/ Region
(thousand tonnes)
Exploited deposits
Baltic Sea 0 0 0 1 0 1 33
Dolnośląskie 66 27 14 7 1 115 24
Kujawsko-Pomorskie 108 30 11 1 0 150 21
Lubelskie 180 21 4 1 0 206 22
Lubuskie 44 16 4 3 0 67 25
Łódzkie 204 33 6 1 0 244 28
Małopolskie 47 28 21 5 0 101 26
Mazowieckie 331 55 12 6 0 404 29
Opolskie 25 13 5 6 1 50 27
Podkarpackie 142 37 7 0 0 186 25
Podlaskie 179 29 14 4 7 233 31
Pomorskie 100 44 15 6 2 167 24
Śląskie 30 10 12 5 1 58 20
Świętokrzyskie 46 4 2 0 0 52 25
Warmińsko-Mazurskie 139 23 16 2 5 185 23
Wielkopolskie 296 57 7 0 1 361 30
Zachodniopomorskie 43 21 13 7 3 87 23
Number of deposits 1,980 448 163 55 21 2,667 26

Natural sands and gravel are also recovered during the exploitation of brown coal deposits. In 2018 the output of the raw material from non-documented deposits during the exploitation in the Bełchatów mine from the Szczerców field amounted to 246.34 thousand tonnes, whereas the output in Turów was equal 68 thousand tonnes.

Figure below shows changes in domestic resources and production of sand and gravel in Poland in the years 1989-2018.

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