Peat is 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 three 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 found 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 peat harvesting. 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 reclamation processes. Such peat is characterized by features improving a soil structure and air-water conditions. Peat is also a base for 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 2016, anticipated economic resources of peat were estimated at 89.031 million m3, decreasing by 4.288 million m3 (4.6%) in relation to the previous year (table 1).
Therapeutical peat (muds) resources amounted to 10.531 million m3 of the total resources base. These resources have been explored and documented in 36 deposits located on all over the country, except of Łódzkie Voivodeship. In table 2, muds deposits or deposits where muds are co-occurring have been marked out by a symbol: *. The rest of deposits are so-called "agriculture peats".
There were 14 new deposits – for agriculture use – documented in 2016: 1 deposit in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship: Dubielno I (0.029 million m3); 4 deposits in Lubelskie Voivodeship (including 3 deposits documented in 2016 and 1 deposit documented in 2001 – Kletnia I – which has not been recorded in "The balance…" so far): Andrzejów II/1 (0.026), Dodatki-Rzeka 1 (0.344), Kletnia I (0.018, as of 31.12.2016) and Kolechowice V (0.027); 2 deposits in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship: Biskupiec Kolonia Druga (0.029) and Ługwałd 2 (0.055, allocated from Ługwałd deposit); 5 deposits in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship: Bucz LG I (0.034), Kamień (0.601), Kamień I (0.025), Jezierzyce Kościelne SD (0.066), Potulice (0.119); 2 deposits in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship: Broczyno (0.233), Krosino-Mołstowo 1 (0.031). The resources increase due to these documentations was equal 1.636 million m3.
There were 10 deposits crossed out from "The balance…" in 2016, including: 4 deposits in Lubelskie Voivodeship: Kolechowice IV, Kolonia Kulczyn dz. nr 69, Lubowierz, Oleśniki; 1 deposit in Lubuskie Voivodeship: Lubiechnia Mała; 1 deposit in Łódzkie Voivodeship: Piaszczyce; 4 deposits in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship: Kuźnica Zbąska JS, Kuźnica Zbąska KW, Piecewo 1, Władysławowo. This resulted in resources drop by 4.736 million m3. The majority of the resources crossed out from "The balance…" (4.543 million m3 – 96%) constitute peats remaining within the overburden of sand deposit Oleśniki, located in the bowl of Oleśniki reservoir which is planned to be built on the Wieprz river in Lubelskie Voivodeship. It was stated that there is no formal base allowing presenting these resources in "The balance…" – they were not included in the decision approving the geological documentation of this deposit in 1984. Moreover, the average ash content in peat is equal 35.3% and exceeds the limit value that define a peat deposit which is 30% (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). In the case of Piecewo 1 deposit its resources were included into Piecewo deposit. Piaszczyce deposit was crossed out from "The balance…" due to the changes of planned land use of this area. The next 5 deposits were crossed out as a result of resources depletion and remaining 2 deposits (Lubiechnia Mała, Kuźnica Zbąska JS) due to the poor raw material quality and the lack of purchasers. For all of deposits for which the exploitation was stopped, there were new documentations with recalculated resources elaborated.
According to the information sent by concession holders, the output of peat amounted to 1.157 million m3 in 2016. It decreased by 0.128 million m3 (9.9%) in comparison with the previous year. The contribution of particular voivodeships in the domestic output is as follows: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 0.300 million m3 (accounting for 25.9% of total domestic production), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 0.177 million m3 (15.3%), Mazowieckie Voivodeship 0.170 million m3 (14.7%), Lubelskie Voivodeship 0.138 million m3 (11.9%), Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.107 million m3 (9.2%), Podlaskie Voivodeship 0.106 million m3 (9.2%), Lubuskie Voivodeship 0.091 million m3 (7.9%), Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 0.037 million m3 (3.2%), Śląskie Voivodeship 0.009 million m3 (0.8%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.008 million m3 (0.7%), Łódzkie Voivodeship 0.008 million m3 (0.7%), Małopolskie Voivodeship 0.003 million m3 (0.3%) and Podkarpackie Voivodeship 0.002 million m3 (0.2%). In Dolnośląskie, Opolskie and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeships peat is not being produced.
The therapeutical peat (muds) production was carried out from 11 deposits in 2016 and amounted to 10.16 thousand m3. It increased by 2.49 thousand m3 (32%) in comparison with 2015. It accounts for only 0.9% of total domestic production but it fully covers demand.
Economic resources of peat documented for 56 deposits amounted to 35.168 million m3 which accounts for 75.5% of anticipated economic resources of these deposits. The resources decreased by 0.371 million m3 (1.1%) in comparison with the previous year.
There was also 0.067 million m3 of peat exploited in 2016 during works on Bełchatów-pole Szczerców brown coal deposit (removing the overburden and making the deposit available for mining). This volume is not included in the table 2.
The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of peat in Poland in the years 1995-2016.
Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.
Prepared by: Wojciech Szczygielski