Glass sands and sandstones
General information and occurrence
The quartz sand is the main raw material to the commercial glass production. The so-called “glass mass” is obtained by melting the raw materials mixture (the set) in a glass furnace. The resulting glass sand accounts for several dozen percent of the raw material in “glass mass” (i.e. 72% in the case of the float glass). The sand for the glass production comes from deposits of quartz sands and weakly cemented quartz sandstones with an appropriate granulation and a negligible content of coloring oxides.
In Poland, sands and sandstones suitable for the glass sands production occur in 10 Voivodeships: Dolnośląskie (vicinities of Bolesławiec), Lubelskie, Lubuskie, Łódzkie (vicinities of Tomaszów Mazowiecki), Mazowieckie, Podkarpackie, Pomorskie, Świętokrzyskie, Wielkopolskie and Zachodniopomorskie. The resources of the Biała Góra series deposits from the vicinities of Tomaszów Mazowiecki have the largest share in a domestic base of the glass sands resources. In turn, the sands from the vicinities of Bolesławiec best match quality requirements of the raw material for the glass production.
The Miocene glass sands deposits from the area of Tarnobrzeg and the sands occurring in the Lubelskie, Lubuskie (vicinities of Żary), Mazowieckie, Podkarpackie, Pomorskie, Wielkopolskie and Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeships are of the less importance for the raw material base. These deposits mainly comprise sands of the Miocene or Quaternary age.
The clastic rock raw materials occurrence in Poland (including glass sands and sandstones) is presented on the map.
Resources and output
Table 1 given below shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of domestic sand glass deposits.
The anticipated economic resources of the glass raw materials amounted in 2022 to 655.29 million tonnes and decreased by 2.80 million tonnes in comparison with the previous year. The drop resulted from the output (-3.14 million tonnes), which from the Unewel-Zachód-Nowy was carried out also from anticipated sub-economic resources.
The anticipated economic resources of exploited deposits are equal 174.19 million tonnes, accounting for 26.58% of the total anticipated economic resources. The economic resources of the glass sands raw materials increased, in spite of the ongoing exploitation, by 8.14 million tonnes mainly as the result of a new deposit development plan (supplement) elaborated for the Unewel-Zachód-Las deposit (Łódzkie Voivodeship; +10 million tonnes) in which the total sub-economic resources were reclassified to the economic resources.
The glass sands output from 8 deposits exploited in 2022 amounted to 3,141.94 thousand tonnes and increased in comparison with the previous year by 222.49 thousand tonnes (8%). The exploitation level increased from 5 deposits (in 3 of them – several times more), whereas in the remaining exploited deposits the output level remained at the unchanged level. It is the 1st year of the output growth after 2 years of declining tendency. Still, despite the valid exploitation concession, the Wyszków-Skuszew deposit (Mazowieckie Voivodeship) is abandoned (lack of output for more than the last 10 years).
The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of glass sands and sandstones in Poland in the years 1989-2022.
The prognostic resources of the glass sands and sandstones are assessed to be equal 210.7 million tonnes – within the Tomaszów Basin area*.
Prepared by: Agnieszka Malon
* Galos K., 2020 - "Piaski szklarskie (glass sand), piaskowce szklarskie (glass sandstone), piaski kwarcowe dla przemysłu szklarskiego (quartz sand for glass industry), piaski podsadzkowe (filling sand)". In: "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r." (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 317-320. PIG-PIB, Warszawa [in Polish].