Peat is an organic sediment originated in the late-Quaternary, most often in Holocene. The process of its accumulation requires a high groundwater level and anaerobic conditions. According to genetic features there are 3 types of peat distinguished: low, high and medium. The richest in food ingredients is low peat occurring in river valleys, ground dips and lake edges. High peat is characterized by poor food ingredients and occurs on divides. Medium peat has both of the features mentioned above.
More than 50% of peatlands are located in the northern part of Poland. They cover an area of about 1.2 million hectares and their volume is estimated at over 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. About 36% of the catalogued peatlands form a potential resource basis for the peat exploitation. Only a small part of these areas, presented in a further part of the present elaboration, has been explored and can be treated as deposits within the meaning of the Geological and Mining Law.
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, excluding 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 agriculture, gardening, fruit-growing and in the reclamation processes. Such peat is characterized by 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 balneology for peat baths, poultices and for production of medicine items. Such peat has 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 2017, anticipated economic resources of peat (agriculture and therapeutical) were estimated at 89.030 million m3, decreasing only by about 0.001 million m3 in relation to the previous year (Table 1). Therapeutical peat (muds) resources amounted to 10.354 million m3 (11.6%) of the total resources base. These resources have been explored and documented in 37 deposits located on all over the country, except of Łódzkie Voivodeship. In 2 deposits: Puścizna Wielka and Bronów not only agriculture but also therapeutical peats have been documented. Nevertheless, they are exploited only from Puścizna Wielka deposit. In Table 2, muds deposits or deposits where muds are co-occurring have been marked out by a symbol *.
There were 9 new deposits documented in 2017, including 1 deposit of muds: in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship Krąpiewo II deposit (0.035 million m3 of anticipated economic resources), in Lubelskie Voivodeship 2 deposits – Biała (0.011 million m3) and Wytyczno IV (0.040 million m3), in Mazowieckie Voivodeship 2 deposits – Korboniec (0.024 million m3) and Rusków (0.553 million m3), in Podlaskie Voivodeship muds deposit Podsokołda 2 (0.018 million m3) allocated from Podsokołda 1 deposit, in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 3 deposits – Dzierzążenko (0.035 million m3), Dzierzążenko I (0.033 million m3) and Skic III (0.304 million m3). The resources increase due to these documentations was equal 1.053 million m3.
There were also 9 new documentations with recalculated resources elaborated in 2017.
There were 3 deposits crossed out from “The balance…” in 2017, including: Stary Majdan deposit (the decision issued in 2005) and Wytyczno III deposit located in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Szawły 1 deposit located in Mazowieckie Voivodeship. The two last of the deposits mentioned above were exploited in 2017. For all of them there were documentations with resources settlement elaborated.
According to the information sent by concession holders to the PGI-NRI, the output of peat amounted to 1.033 million m3 in 2017. It decreased by 0.124 million m3 (10.7%) in comparison with the previous year. The significant drops were recorded for: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship – by 0.085 million m3 (71.7% year to year), Pomorskie Voivodeship – by 0.059 million m3 (44.4% year to year) and Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship – by 0.030 million m3 (82.9% year to year). The output grew remarkably in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship – by 0.037 million m3 (199.3% year to year).
The contribution of particular voivodeships in the domestic output was as follows: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 0.215 million m3 (accounting for 20.8% of total domestic production), Mazowieckie Voivodeship 0.168 million m3 (16.3%), Lubelskie Voivodeship 0.157 million m3 (15.2%), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 0.147 million m3 (14.2%), Podlaskie Voivodeship 0.119 million m3 (11.5%), Lubuskie Voivodeship 0.088 million m3 (8.5%), Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 0.074 million m3 (7.2%), Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.047 million m3 (4.6%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.009 million m3 (0.9%), Małopolskie Voivodeship 0.005 million m3 (0.4%), Łódzkie Voivodeship 0.002 million m3 (0.2%), Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 0.001 million m3 (0.1%), Śląskie Voivodeship 0.001 million m3 (0.1%) and Podkarpackie Voivodeship 0.001 mln m3 (0.1%). In Dolnośląskie and Opolskie Voivodeships peat has not been exploited.
The therapeutical peat (muds) production was carried out from 11 deposits in 2017 and amounted to 9.78 thousand m3. It decreased by 0.38 thousand m3 (3.7%) in comparison with 2016. It accounts for only 0.9% of total domestic output but it fully covers demand.
Economic resources of peat documented for 58 deposits amounted to 37.092 million m3 which accounts for 76.2% of anticipated economic resources of these deposits. The resources increased by 1.924 million m3 (5.5%) in comparison with the previous year.
Temporarily, peat (and also other “co-occurring” raw materials) is being exploited from the overburden of the brown coal deposit Bełchatów-pole Szczerców when making the deposit available for mining. Nevertheless, in 2017 the exploitation was not recorded.
The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of peat in Poland in the years 1995-2017.
Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.
Prepared by: Wojciech Szczygielski