Coal in Poland

Coal Production94.9Mtoe per year

Coal Recoverable Reserves3.09thousand Mtoe

Coal Recoverable Reserves

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The Polish WEC Member Committee reports that at end-2011 Poland’s remaining discovered amount of bituminous coal in place was 17 606 million tonnes, of which 4 178 million tonnes were estimated to be recoverable. The corresponding tonnages for lignite are reported as 1 668 million tonnes in place, of which 1 287 is regarded as recoverable. In both cases the recoverable tonnages relate to established amounts in developed deposits.

The proved amount of hard coal in place is based on a maximum deposit depth of 1 000 m and a minimum seam thickness of 1 m; the corresponding parameters for lignite are a maximum deposit depth of 350 m and minimum seam thickness of 3 m.

Over and above the tonnages quoted above, the Member Committee has advised substantial amounts of both ranks of coal at lower levels of probability, on the basis of a 2009 study. Additional known in situ resources of bituminous grades comprise 26 906 million tonnes classified as ‘probable’ and 9 193 million tonnes in the ‘possible’ category, with a further total of some 25.5 billion tonnes potential additional recovery from known resources. Supplementary in situ resources of lignite are reported as 20 995 million tonnes in the ‘probable’ category and 26 541 million tonnes in the ‘possible’ category.

Poland’s hard coal resources are mainly in the Upper Silesian Basin, which lies in the southwest of the country, straddling the border with the Czech Republic: about 80% of the basin is in Polish territory. Other hard-coal fields are located in the Lower Silesia and Lublin basins. There are a number of lignite deposits in central and western Poland, with four of the larger basins currently being exploited for production, virtually all through surface mining.

The quality of the Upper Silesian hard coals is generally quite high, with relatively low levels of sulphur and ash content. Of Poland’s proved reserves of hard coal, 42.5% is reported to be of coking quality.

Although output of hard coal has declined during the past twenty years, and especially since 1997, Poland is still one of the world’s major coal producers (see Table 1.3), with a 2008 output of some 84 million tonnes of hard coal and 60 million tonnes of lignite.

Apart from Russia, Poland is the only world-class coal exporter in Europe. However its 2008 exports fell sharply to less than 8 million tonnes, of which steam coal accounted for 80% and coking coal for 20%. Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria were Poland’s largest export markets for coal.

About 63% of inland consumption of hard coal goes to the production of electricity and bulk heat, industrial uses account for 24% and residential/commercial/agricultural uses 13%. Almost all lignite production is consumed in CHP plants.

Poland consumes 77 million tonnes of coal per year, which makes it the 10th largest coal consumer in the world and the 2nd largest in the EU, after Germany. 92% of electricity and 89% of heat in Poland is generated from coal and according to the official Polish Government Energy Policy Strategy, coal will remain the key element of the country’s energy security until at least 2030.

Although Poland’s electricity mix is expected to become more diversified over the coming years, with the first nuclear power plant scheduled for 2022 and rising interest in shale gas exploration, coal is perceived by policy makers as a strategic energy resource for the country’s energy security and its consumption is not expected to decline over the next two decades.

According to the “Energy Policy of Poland until 2030” coal is expected to be used as the main fuel for electricity generation. The document envisages a reduction in the energy consumption of the Polish economy and a 19 % share of renewables in total energy consumption by 2020. Nevertheless, electricity consumption in 2030 is expected to increase by 30%, gas consumption by 42% and petroleum products consumption by 7%.