Mineral resources of Poland> Rock raw materials and others> Peat
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General information and occurrence

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 in Falenty (currently: the Institute of Technology and Life Sciences). 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.

Therapeutical peat deposits (muds) occur commonly in Poland – only in Łódzkie Voviodeship there have not been any resources documented.

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. Nowadays, there are imported briquettes and pellets made of peat available on Polish market – they are used as fuel. Their production in Poland probably is not carried out or the scale of the production is minor.

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

Resources and output

In 2020, the anticipated economic resources of peat (agriculture and therapeutical) amounted to 91.566 million m3, decreasing by 0.854 million m3 (that is by 0.9%) in relation to the previous year. The agriculture peat resources amounted to 81.420 million m3 accounting for 88.9% of the total resources, whereas the therapeutical peat resources are equal 10.146 million m3 accounting for 11.1% of the total.

There were 5 new deposits included in “The balance…” – their geological documentations were approved in 2020. They include 4 agriculture peat deposits: Kolechowice VII in Lubelskie Voivodeship (53 thousand m3), Bucz MG (21 thousand m3), Kuźnica Zbąska JP I (6 thousand m3), Stawnica I (606 thousand m3) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship and the muds deposit Niedrzwica 5 in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship (6 thousand m3, allocated from Niedrzwica 4 deposit).

There were also 7 new documentations with recalculated resources approved, from which in 4 cases the decisions on crossing out the deposit from “The balance…” were made.

There was the resources settlement made for Imszar III deposit in Podlaskie Voivodeship (the extinction of the exploitation concession) and the resources of Niedrzwica deposit (the change of the balancing criteria) and Niedrzwica 4 (allocated from Niedrzwica 5 deposit) in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship were updated.

There were 3 agriculture peat deposits crossed out from „The balance…”: Kulczyn Kolonia in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Biskupice MS and Bucz LG I in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship (their exploitation ended and non-exploited resources were in majority classified to losses) and the resources of muds deposit Ustka (194 thousand m3 due to the maintaining microbiological contamination exceeding the limit values – such contamination precludes the raw material application in the balneology) which has not been exploited so far.

The total peat output amounted in 2020 to 1.313 million m3 and increased by 0.124 million m3 (10.4%) in comparison with 2019. The exploitation was carried out from 57 deposits (the output from 3 deposits ended in 2020; from Puścizna Wielka deposit there were both agriculture peat and muds exploited). The agriculture peat was exploited from 49 deposits. The output was equal 1.304 million m3 (99.3% of the total peat output) and increased by 0.123 million m3 (10.4%) in comparison with 2019. For the particular deposits the output volumes are varied within the range between 0.1 and 133 thousand m3. The therapeutical peat was exploited from 9 deposits. The output amounted to 9.20 thousand m3 of muds (0.7% of the total peat output) – by 0.55 thousand m3 (6.4%) less than in the previous year. The output volumes for particular deposits varied between 0.01 and 4.91 thousand m3.

In the Voivodeship terms, the peat output (agriculture and muds) was as follows: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 0.319 million m3 (24.3% of the domestic output), Lubeskie Voivodeship 0.263 million m3 (20.1%), Mazowieckie Voivodeship 0.182 million m3 (13.9%), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 0.144 million m3 (10.9%), Podlaskie Voivodeship 0.120 million m3 (9.2%), Lubuskie Voivodeship 0.094 million m3 (7.2%), Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 0.093 million m3 (7.1%), Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.075 million m3 (5.7%), Małopolskie Voivodeship 0.006 million m3 (0.4%), Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 0.005 million m3 (0.4%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.004 million m3 (0.3%), Łódzkie Voivodeship 0.004 million m3 (0.3%), Podkarpackie Voivodeship 0.002 million m3 (0.1%), Śląskie Voivodeship 0.002 million m3 (0.1%). In Dolnośląskie and Opolskie 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 1995-2020.

The economic resources of peat established for 63 deposits amount to 34.722 million m3, including: 31.029 million m3 (89.4%) of agriculture peat and 3.693 million m3 (10.6%) of muds. The resources decreased by 0.913 million m3 (2.6%) 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 2020 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.

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.

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 [in Polish].