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

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 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 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 2018, anticipated economic resources of peat (agriculture and therapeutical) amounted to 91.695 million m3, increasing only by 2.665 million m3 (3.0%) in relation to the previous year (Table 1).

The anticipated economic resources of agriculture peat, have been documented in 261 deposits, are equal 81.340 million m3 which accounts for 88.7% of the total anticipated economic resources of peat.

Therapeutical peat (muds) resources, documented in 38 deposits, amount to 10.355 million m3 accounting for 11.3% 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 11 new peat deposits included in “The balance…”, for which the geological documentations were approved in 2018: 10 deposits of the agriculture peat and 1 deposit of mud. These are: Nowy Stręczyn I (907.22 thousand m3), Stoczek I (609.63 thousand m3), Skruda (736.11 thousand m3), Krowie Bagno VIII (728.99 thousand m3), Kolechowice VI (31.9 thousand m3) located in Lubelskie Voivodeship; Leśnice (223.3 thousand m3) located in Pomorskie Voivodeship; Górzna (193.91 thousand m3), Radawnica (48.52 thousand m3), Prochy (274.44 thousand m3), Bucz LG II (13.69 thousand m3) located in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship; Świnoujście – Płachcin (37.6 thousand m3 of muds) located in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship. The total resources of the newly documented deposits amount to 3,805.31 thousand m3, including: the agriculture peat equal 3,767.71 thousand m3 (and 79 thousand m3 of the anticipated sub-economic resources), the muds equal 37.6 thousand m3.

In 2018 there were 6 new documentations with recalculated resources accepted, including: 1 documentation expanding the deposit are and updating the resources of Kamień deposit located in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship and 5 documentations elaborated due to the resources settlement after the exploitation end.

There were 5 deposits crossed out from “The balance…” in 2018, including: Kolechowice V, Krowie Bagno IV and Krowie Bagno V located in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Jeżów located in Łódzkie Voivodeship and Bucz LG located in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship. About 0.034 million m3 of peat were reclassified into losses.

According to the information sent by concession holders to the PGI-NRI, the total output of peat amounted to 1.379 million m3 in 2018 increasing by 0.346 million m3 (33.5%) in comparison with the previous year.

The agriculture peat was being exploited from 56 deposits (2 deposits were abandonded), whereas the muds were being exploited from 11 deposits. The operation on Puścizna Wielka deposit resulted in both the agriculture peat and the muds.

The output of the agriculture peat was equal 1.370 million m3 (accounting for 99.4% of the total peat production) growing by 0.353 million m3 (34.5%) when comparing to 2017. The exploitation of peat depends on the weather conditions, therefore the significant differences of the output level can be observed – depending on the favorable or adverse conditions in a given year.

The output of the therapeutical peat amounted to 8.21 thousand m3 (0.6% of the total peat production), accounting for 83.9% of the last year’s volume (dropped by 1.57 thousand m3). The amount of muds exploited from particular deposits varied from 4 m3 to 2.71 thousand m3.

In the Voivodeship terms, the peat output (agriculture and muds) was as follows: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 0.366 million m3 (26.5% of the domestic output), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 0.253 million m3 (18.3%), Mazowieckie Voivodeship 0.182 million m3 (13.2%), Lubelskie Voivodeship 0.157 million m3 (11.4%), Podlaskie Voivodeship 0.129 million m3 (9.3%), Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.100 million m3 (7.2%), Lubuskie Voivodeship 0.094 million m3 (6.8%), Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 0.086 million m3 (6.3%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.005 million m3 (0.4%), Łódzkie Voivodeship 0.003 million m3 (0.2%), Małopolskie Voivodeship 0.002 million m3 (0.2%), Podkarpackie Voivodeship 0.001 million m3 (0.1%), Śląskie Voivodeship 0.0005 million m3 (0.0%). In Dolnośląskie, Opolskie and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeships the exploitation has not been carried out.

Economic resources of peat established for 61 deposits amount to 35.897 million m3 which accounts for 74.5% of anticipated economic resources of these deposits. The resources decreased by 1.195 million m3 (3.2%) 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 in the vicinities of Bełchatów during the process of making the deposit available for mining. Nevertheless, in 2018 the exploitation was not recorded.

The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of peat in Poland in the years 1995-2018.

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