Peat is an organic sediment originated in a humid environment as the result of an accumulation and a peat-formation of an organic matter mainly of a plant origin. The peat-formation process is generally based on the organic matter decomposition in a limited oxygen access. There are physical, chemical and microbiological transformations occurring during this process. Depending on the environmental conditions and the type of the turfogenic vegetation (biotope), as well as on the accumulation conditions and the changes of these factors, the various types and kinds of peat are formed. They differ in their appearance, composition and properties.
According to the genetic features, there are low, high and medium peat distinguished. The low peat originates on peatlands (low) occurring in swampy river valleys, in ground dips and on lake edges. That type of peat is reach in food ingredients supplied by surface and deep-seated water. The high peat originates on peatlands (high) located on divides or within the zones located above the surrounding areas which are supplied only by rainwater. They are characterized by a low content of the food ingredients and a higher acidity than the low peat. The medium peat combines the features of both peat types mentioned above. Most of peat originated in the late-Quaternary, mainly in the Holocene.
The distribution of peatlands and peat deposits is uneven in Poland. They commonly occur in northern and north-western Poland and within the Lubelszczyzna area. In other regions their number, thickness and dispersion decrease. More than 50% of peatlands are located in the northern part of Poland. They cover an area of about 1.2 million hectares containing above 17 billion m3 of peat. Up to the present, about 50,000 peatlands have been catalogued by the Institute for Land Reclamation and Grassland Farming. From this number about 36% form a potential resource basis for the peat exploitation. Only a minor part of these areas, presented in a further part of the chapter, has been explored and can be treated as deposits within the meaning of the Geological and Mining Law.
The prognostic resources of peat in Poland are assessed to be equal at least 335.95 million m3 within at least 2,059 areas characterized by the deposit potential*. The majority, that is almost 77.2%, is located in the northern part of Poland, within the following Voivodeships: Zachodniopomorskie (8.7%), Pomorskie (28.2%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie (6.3%), Warmińsko-Mazurskie (17.9%) and Podlaskie (16.1%). The significant resources base is also located in Lubelskie (10.5%) and Małopolskie (8.0%) Voivodeships. The mentioned above Voivodeships cover 46% of the area of Poland and account for 95.7% of the prognostic resources of peat. Only 4.6% of the prognostic resources is located within the remaining 54% of the country area.
According to the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of the 1st of July 2015 regarding the geological documentation of a mineral raw material deposit, excluding a hydrocarbons field (number of Polish act: Dz. U. 2015, poz. 987) the limit values of the parameters that define the raw material deposit are (Appendix 8):
- peat deposits (table 5):
the minimum deposit thickness 1 m; the maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit thickness 0.5; the maximum ash content in dry peat - 30%;
- therapeutical peat deposits – muds (table 6):
the minimum deposit thickness 1 m; the maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit thickness 0.5; the maximum non-organic matter content in dry mass 25%; the minimum grade of decomposition 30% (H3); the bacteriological valuation (coli titer) ≥1.0; the coli titer perfringens ≥1.0;
- mud silts deposits (table 7):
the minimum deposit thickness 1 m; the maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit thickness 0.5; the maximum non-organic matter content in dry mass 80%; minimum grade of decomposition 30% (H3); the bacteriological valuation (coli titer) ≥1.0; the coli titer perfringens ≥1.0.
Nowadays, a so-called “agriculture peat” is used mainly in the agriculture, gardening, fruit-growing, forestry and in the reclamation processes. Such peat is characterized by the features improving a soil structure and air-water conditions. Peat is also a base for the production of a garden peat, a peat base, mineral peat mixtures and an agriculture peat.
Therapeutical peat – muds – is used in a balneology for the peat baths, poultices and for the production of medicine items. Such muds have to be microbiologically clean, in an advanced decay of organic matter, of a smooth mud consistency, with a high content of the active organic compounds, a moisture content over 75% and should not be affected by freezing and defreezing.
In the past, peat was also used as a fuel, a raw material for chemical industry, for production of a cardboard, fiberboard and as a sorbent.
There are most important peat deposits (with muds marked out) presented on the map.
In 2019, the anticipated economic resources of peat (agriculture and therapeutical) amounted to 92,420 million m3, increasing by 0.725 million m3 (that is by 0.8%) in relation to the previous year.
The anticipated economic resources of agriculture peat, have been documented in 262 deposits, are equal 82,740 million m3 which accounts for 88.8% of the total anticipated economic resources of peat.
The therapeutical peat (muds) resources, documented in 38 deposits, amount to 10.346 million m3 accounting for 11.2% of the total documented resources of peat. The muds deposits are distributed almost across the whole country. Only in Łódzkie Voivodeship no single muds deposits has been documented.
There were 6 new agriculture peat deposits included in “The balance…”, for which the geological documentations were approved in 2019: Dąbrówka Nowa IV (11 thousand m3) in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, Kulczyn Kolonia (19 thousand m3) in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Konotop V (465 thousand m3) in Lubuskie Voivodeship, Imszar IV (1,396 thousand m3) in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Góry Łubiańskie (20 thousand m3) in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship; Jastrowie I (54 thousand m3) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship. The total resources of the newly documented deposits amount to 1.965 thousand m3. There were not any new documentations for therapeutical peat elaborated in 2019.
In 2019 there were 6 new documentations with recalculated resources approved. There were the resources for 5 deposits updated: Chrośna I in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, Andrzejów in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Imszar II in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Babice in Śląskie Voivodeship, Rucianka in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship. In turn, after the resources settlement, there were 4 deposits crossed out from “The balance…” in 2018: Michałów, Andrzejów II in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Studzieniec in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Biskupice TS in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship. About 0.068 million m3 of peat were reclassified into losses.
According to the information sent by concession holders to the PGI-NRI, the exploitation of peat was carried out from 66 deposits. The total output amounted to 1.189 million m3 in 2019 decreasing by 0.189 million m3 (13.7%) in comparison with the previous year.
The agriculture peat was being exploited from 54 deposits (2 deposits were abandonded and the deposits were crossed out of “The balance…”). The output was equal 1,181 million m3 (99.4% of the total peat output) and dropped by 0.190 million m3 in comparison with 2018. For the particular deposits the output volume was within the range of 0.2 thousand m3 and 133 thousand m3.
The output of the therapeutical peat was being carried out from 12 deposits. The output amounted to 8.65 thousand m3 (0.7% of the total peat output) which accounted for 94.6% of the output recorded in 2018 (the drop by 0.44 thousand m3). The amount of muds exploited from the particular deposits was within the range of 4.7 m3 to 2.59 thousand m3. In Puścizna Wielka deposit both of peat types occur, however only the agriculture peat was exploited in 2019.
In the Voivodeship terms, the peat output (agriculture and muds) was as follows: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 0.288 million m3 (24.2% of the domestic output), Mazowieckie Voivodeship 0.189 million m3 (15.6%), Lubelskie Voivodeship 0.180 million m3 (15.2%), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 0.152 million m3 (12.8%), Podlaskie Voivodeship 0.101 million m3 (8.5%), Lubuskie Voivodeship 0.089 million m3 (7.5%), Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.086 million m3 (7.2%), Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 0.082 million m3 (6.9%), Łódzkie Voivodeship 0.013 million m3 (1.1%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.006 million m3 (0.5%), Podkarpackie Voivodeship 0.004 million m3 (0.3%), Małopolskie Voivodeship 0.002 million m3 (0.2%), Śląskie Voivodeship 0.001 million m3 (0.0%). In Dolnośląskie, Opolskie and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeships the exploitation has not been carried out.
The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of peat in Poland in the years 1995-2019.
The economic resources of peat established for 63 deposits amount to 35.635 million m3 which accounts for 74.3% of the anticipated economic resources of these deposits. The resources decreased by 0.262 million m3 (0.7%) in comparison with the previous year. There were the economic resources established for the following deposits: Potulice and Krowie Bagno VIII – the total resources growth was equal 0.848 million m3.
Temporarily, peat (and also other “co-occurring” raw materials) is being exploited from the overburden of the brown coal in the vicinities of Bełchatów during the process of making the deposit available for mining. Nevertheless, in 2018 the exploitation was not recorded.
Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.
The state of the resources exploration and the state of the deposits development, together with the output amounts from particular deposits are presented in the following tables: Table 2 – the agriculture peat; Table 3 – the therapeutical peat (muds). There are 2 deposits marked with *: Puścizna Wielka and Bronów A, in which both the agriculture peat and the muds have been documented.
Prepared by: Wojciech Szczygielski
* Kasiński J.R., 2020 - Torf (peat). In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r. (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 382-386. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.