Lignite - production in Poland

According to “The balance of mineral resources deposits in Poland as of 31.12.2015” (Szuflicki et al., 2016), the lignite output of Poland amounted to 63.13 million tonnes in 2015.

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A vast majority of the output (42.08 million tonnes) came from the Bełchatów Lignite Mine while the Sieniawa Lignite Mine contributed least (0.07 million tonnes). In the years 1990 to 2015, lignite production in Poland has ranged from 56.5 million tonnes in 2010 to 68.7 million tonnes in 1991. On average, 62.5 million tonnes of lignite were produced each year in that period. It is estimated that Polish mines have produced in total 2,859.73 million tonnes of lignite after World War II.

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As of 2015, lignite was mined in:

  • four Polish voivodeships: Dolnośląskie, Lubuskie, Łódzkie and Wielkopolskie;
  • three lignite basins: Konin, Turoszów and Bełchatów plus Sieniawa Mine;
  • five opencast mines: PAK KWB Adamów SA, PGE GiEK SA KWB Bełchatów Branch, PAK KWB Konin SA, PGE GiEK SA KWB Turów Branch and KWB Sieniawa Sp. z o.o.;
  • nine deposits: Adamów Koźmin Bełchatów – Pole, Bełchatów, Bełchatów - Pole Szczerców, Pątnów IV, Drzewce, Tomisławice Turów and Sieniawa 1.

KWB Sieniawa where production started in 1873, is the oldest active lignite mine in Poland. The Bełchatów Mine commissioned in 1980 is the most recent one.

In 2014 Poland ranked fourth worldwide in terms of lignite production (after Germany the United States of America and Russia) and third in Europe.
World production of lignite was equal to 810.5 million tonnes in 2014. Germany was the largest producer with 178.2 million tonnes, followed by the United States (72.1 million tonnes) and Russia (69.6 million tonnes) China the largest lignite producer and consumer worldwide is not included in the statistics (source: Coal Information, 2015, 2016).

Global output of lignite peaked in 1989 with 1,250 million tonnes, fell in the 1990’s to 923.3 million tonnes in 1999 and then rose again to 1 056 million tonnes in 2013.

Lignite price is not quoted at international markets.

Methods of production

Several hundreds of small, mostly underground mines existed before 1945 in the present-day territory of Poland.

Today, lignite is exclusively surface mined (open-pit mining) in Poland. This method of output is commonly used across the world, but attempts have been made to apply unconventional methods, such as in situ lignite gasification which is used for commercial production in Uzbekistan and China. In situ lignite gasification is not popular nowadays, but this is about to change – a large in situ lignite gasification project is currently underway in Australia.
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