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Mineral resources of Poland> Rock raw materials and others> Peat
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Peat

Peat is an organic matter of the Quaternary age, most often Holocene. It is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation. The process of its origin of peat requires high groundwater level and acidic and anaerobic conditions which inhibit decay of plant material.

According to genetic features there are three types of peat distinguished: low, high and medium. The richest in food ingredients is low peat occurring in river valleys and lake edges.

Geological and quality criteria which define a peat deposit are: - thickness of deposit not smaller than 1 m; - maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit - 0,5; - maximum ash content - 30 %. There are several quality parameters deciding on peat use:

  • grade of decomposition (according to von Post: H1 – not decomposed; H10 - totally decomposed),
  • ash content (organic matter content in 100 g of dry mass),
  • pH,
  • wetness,
  • bacteriological valuation (coli titer).

Peat is used in gardening and in agriculture as organic fertilizer and a medium added to a soil to improve its physical properties. It is also used in balneology (peat baths and poultices and mud wraps), medicine and therapeutics. Peat is no longer used as a fuel in Poland. Peats used in medicine are therapeutical muds which have to be clean microbiologically, with high content of active organic compounds, advanced decay of organic matter, smooth mud consistency, moisture content over 75 % and should not be affected by freezing and defreezing.

More than 50 % of peatlands are found in northern part of Poland. They cover an area of about 1.2 million hectares (around 4.2 % of area of the country) and their volume is estimated at over 17 billion m3. Up to the present, almost 50,000 peatlands have been catalogued by the Institute for Land Reclamation and Grassland Farming. According to these records, about 36 % of the catalogued peatlands form a potential resource basis for peat harvesting.

There are most important peat deposits (with muds marked out) presented on the map.

In 2012, anticipated economic resources of peat were estimated at 78.98 million m3, increasing by about 4.80 million m3 in relation to the previous year. There were 19 new deposits documented in 2012 with the total anticipated economic resources equal to 6.57 m3. The Karaska II deposit contains more than 5 million m3 of resources.

There were 5 deposits crossed out of “The balance…” in 2012.

Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.

Prepared by: Agnieszka Wałkuska