The paper investigates the competitiveness of the Polish hard coal mining sector as a fuel source for heat and power generation. The main objective of the study is to make a quantitative assessment of the impact of the price relationship between domestic and imported steam coal on the consumption of domestic fine coal in the Polish heat and power generation sector. For this purpose, a long-term mathematical model of the Polish steam coal market is employed and scenarios that mimic the relationship between domestic and imported steam coal prices is developed. The following results are analysed:
- the volume of total domestic steam coal consumption under the scenarios analysed,
- the absolute difference in domestic steam coal consumption under the scenarios analysed in comparison with the scenario 0%,
- the total imported and domestic steam coal consumption in the period analysed.
In addition, the results were depicted in cartograms in order to present the distribution of domestic and imported coal consumption in the various regions of Poland.
The results of the study indicate that the supply of steam coal in Poland can be completely covered by domestic mines when the price of domestic coal is from –40% to –20% lower than that of imported coal. For the remaining scenarios, the consumption of imported coal increases and reaches its highest value in the scenario +40%, in which imported coal covered of 71% of total steam coal consumption in Poland over the period.
The conclusions presented in this paper provide valuable findings and policy insights into the competitiveness of domestic mines and management of domestic production both in Poland and other countries in which power generation systems are mostly dominated by coal.
Securing the certainty of supplies of the necessary minimum energy in each country is a basic condition for the energy security of the state and its citizens. The concept of energy security combines several aspects at the same time, as it can be considered in terms of the availability of own energy resources, it concerns technical aspects related to technical infrastructure, as well as political aspects related to the management and diversification of energy supplies. Another aspect of the issue of energy security is the environmental perspective, which is now becoming a priority in the light of the adopted objectives of the European Union’s energy policy. The restrictive requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the required level of renewable energy sources in the energy balance of the Member States is becoming a challenge for economies that use fossil fuels to a large extent in the raw material structure, including Poland. Poland is the largest producer of hard coal in the European Union and hard coal is a strategic raw material as it satisfies about 50% of the country’s energy demand. In this context, the main goal of the article was to determine the future sale of hard coal by 2030 in relation to environmental regulations introduced in the energy sector. For this purpose, a mathematical model with a 95% confidence interval was developed using artificial LSTM neural networks, which belong to deep learning machine learning techniques, which reflects the key relationships between hard coal mining and the assumptions adopted in the National Energy and Climate Plan for the years 2021–2030 (NECP).
The paper presents multi-criteria optimization method allowing for selection of the best production scenarios in underground coal mines. We discuss here the dilemma between strategies maximizing economic targets and rational resources depletion. Elaborated method combines different geological and mining parameters, structure of the deposit, mine’s infrastructure constrains with economic criteria such as the net present value (NP V), earnings before deducting interest and taxes (EBIT ) and the free cash flows to firm (FCFF). It refers to strategic production planning. Due to implementation of advanced IT software in underground coal mines (digital model, automated production scheduling) we were able to identify millions of scenarios finally reduced to a few – the best ones. The method was developed and tested using data from mine operation “X” (a real project – an example of a coking coal mine located in Poland). The reliability of the method was approved; we were able to identify multiple production scenarios better than the one chosen for implementation in the “X” mine. The final product of the method were rankings of scenarios grouped according to economic decision criteria. The best scenarios reached NP V nearly 50% higher than the Base Case, which held only 52. position out of 60. According to EBIT and FCFF criteria, 10 scenarios achieved results higher than the Base Case, but the percentage differences were very small, below 2 and 4%, respectively. The developed method is of practical importance and can be successfully applied to many other coal projects.
The paper deals with the issue of financial efficiency, measured by the arithmetic rate of return, of indirect financial investments in the area of strategic raw materials (hard coal, copper, crude oil). Two forms of indirect investments were analyzed: shares of natural resources companies listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and futures contracts for strategic commodities: hard coal, copper and crude oil.
The time of the analysis is the first 6 months of 2019 and 2020. The year 2019 was regarded as an analysis of the period of economic growth, and the year 2020 was the analysis of the period of economic crisis. The comparisons were made in two dimensions. Firstly, it whether indirect commodity investments show the characteristics of efficiency resilience to the time of the economic crisis was checked (by comparing the achieved rates of return in the two analyzed periods). Secondly, which of the analyzed forms of investment (stocks, contracts) gives better investment results during economic growth and economic crisis was compared.
As it was shown in the paper, indirect commodity investments do not show an above-average rate of return neither during economic growth nor economic crisis. The achieved rates of return on shares compared to changes in the WIG20 index in the analyzed first half of 2019 were negative. Only one company showed a positive and significantly higher than the market rate of return. Very similar results were achieved by the analyzed companies in 2020.
On the other hand, the analysis of prices and rates of return on commodity futures contracts showed that in the period of economic growth it is effective to take a long position on crude oil contracts and a short position on hard coal contracts. In a period of economic crisis, the opposite position is profitable due to the observed growth in hard coal prices and a significant drop in crude oil prices.
The answers to the research questions posed in the paper do not provide indications for recommending indirect forms of investment in commodities as an alternative to analogous forms of other sectors of the economy. The analysis shows that the impact of the economic situation on the efficiency of commodity investment is most noticeable for crude oil, and the least (among the analyzed commodities) for indirect copper-based investments.
Most EU member states have taken measures to implement the principles of sustainable development. Mineral extraction in Europe has become more difficult, since most member states have taken measures to implement the principles of sustainable development. The industrial minerals sector provides important mineral commodities for the industries. The general situation of minerals supplying in Europe is provided by a strong position of aggregate sector. The paper evaluates the development of mineral extraction in the Visegrad group of EU countries with the aim to find the position of the mining industry in the V4 countries and its contribution to the European mining industry, regarding the sustainability of mining. A task of sustainability assessment is the evaluation of the V4 mining sector’s contribution to the European economy and finally to assess the risks and obstacles for mining industry development. Due to the mentioned present state of minerals supplying in Europe, this is evaluated with economic and environmental significance of materials, connected with development of mineral production and critical mineral Raw Materials in EU, compared with worldwide situation, followed by the prediction of mineral production. The third part is orientated towards the evaluation of raw materials used in the individual V4 countries. The situation of mineral production is evaluated especially in the V4 region. Thre results show that despite the fact that there is an obvious certain boom and annual growth of mining volumes in the V4 countries, the growth does not mean the mining industry follows sustainable development. There is a vast space for the industry to improve. The further evaluation of state minerals demands the consideration of risks and obstacles in mining business and the environment impact.
The open-cast nature of deposit exploitation means that apart from the extraction of the main mineral, rocks are also found in its vicinity. Their nature, raw material quality and geological and mining conditions allow them to be used in various branches of the economy. Hence, it seems that more attention should now be given to these rocks. However, the long-term, open-cast mining operations involving Bełchatów lignite ultimately necessitated basic, raw-material-related research on the deposits accompanying the lignite as the main mineral. The presented work shows the state of the recognition of rocks lying in the Mesozoic–Neogene contact zone in the Bełchatów lignite deposit as well as their petrographic nature and possible directions of their use. Attention was drawn to the lithological diversity of the studied rocks and diagenetic processes that contributed to the impact on their physical and mechanical characteristics. Based on the analysis of the literature, the current state of utilization and development as well as the balance of accompanying rock resources in the Bełchatów lignite deposit are presented.
Today, it would seem very important from various economic points of view for utilization and management of the aforementioned rocks encountered as open-cast lignite mining to take place. Natural resources are protected where the area mined is kept in check, and there is economic significance to any increasing in the supply of minerals, or materials made from them. The level of profitability for economic entities that exploit lignite deposits may obviously be raised in this way, and environmental goals can also be served if some of what is extracted can be transformed into environment-friendly materials.
Lignite still plays a key role in the production of electricity in Poland. About one-third of domestic electric energy comes from lignite burned in large power plants that produce megatons (Mt) of bottom ash and fly ash annually. Nearly 11 wt% of the total ash generated by the lignite-fired power industry in Poland comes from lignite extracted from the Konin Lignite Mine. Part of the ash escapes into the atmosphere, and the rest is utilized, which is expensive and often harmful to the environment; hence, geochemical studies of these ashes are fully justified and increasingly carried out. The lignite samples examined in this paper represent the entire vertical section of the first Mid-Polish lignite seam (MPLS-1) mined in opencasts at Jóźwin IIB, Drzewce, and Tomisławice. First, the samples were oxidized (burnt) at one of three temperatures: 100, 850, and 950°C; then the chemical composition of oxides and trace elements was determined according to the ASTM D6349-13 standard. The ashes were rich in SiO2 and CaO; Ba, Sr, and Cu dominated the trace element content. Among the harmful elements found, Pb is of most concern. Only a few elements (Ba, Cu, Pb, Sb) reached values higher than their corresponding Clarke values. Based on the results obtained, it can be concluded that the examined ashes are approximately as harmful to the environment as ashes from other lignite used to generate electricity. Moreover, the increased amount of CaCO3 in the MPLS-1 is beneficial in the process of natural desulphurization.
Based on the analysis of the LIDAR terrain Digital Elevation Model (DEM), traces of opencast and underground mining of iron ore mining were located and classified. They occur in the zone of ore-bearing deposits outcropping on the north-eastern and north-western bounds of the Holy Cross Mountains. The DEM of an area covered by thirty-six (36) standard sheets of the Detailed Geological Map of Poland on a scale of 1:50,000 was thoroughly explored with remote sensing standards. Four types of ore recovery shafts with accompanying waste heaps were classified. The acquired data on the extent of former mining areas, covered with varying shafts and barren rock heaps could make a basis for distinguishing, according to historical data and in cooperation with archaeologists, the historical development stages of today’s steel industry. According to general knowledge, the iron industry in Europe instigate dates from the Roman times, in the Ist century BC to the IVth century AD, throughout the earlier and the late medieval times, up to the most recent the 1970ties. The usefulness of the LIDAR method has already been amazingly confirmed in archaeological researches worldwide. Many discoveries of ling forgotten, even large entities resulting from human activities in Asia and Central America especially were discovered owed to the LIDAR DEM. Also, traces of human settlements from various historical periods were discovered that way in Poland. The applicability of DEM based on LIDAR data is, in geological studies of surficial geodynamic processes and in geological mapping in Poland, rather contested.
Based on the reinterpretation of gravimetric, magnetic, seismic and magnetotelluric studies, new features of the sub-Permian basement in the area between the Dolsk Fault and the Middle Odra Fault, SW Poland, are identified. Among numerous faults and lineaments indicated in the article, those limiting both the Wolsztyn–Pogorzela High and a positive anomaly in the Lower Silesian Basin, as well as the faults in the vicinity of the Odra River are particularly prominent. N-S oriented structural elements are also visible in the gravity image. One of them separates the Pogorzela High from the Wolsztyn High. In light of the obtained results, according to refraction seismic surveys, the Polish equivalent to the Mid-German Crystalline Rise is located farther north from commonly accepted position within the Middle Odra Metamorphic Complex. The study results, supported by data from the neighboring area of Germany, may be important for further prospecting for sediment-hosted Cu and other metal deposits. The reprocessing of archival geophysical data using method of effective reflection coefficients (ERC) enabled the creation of more accurate structural model of ore series within the area of the Nowa Sól deposit in SW Poland. In terms of mineral resource prospects, this creates the possibility of applying new results from the study area to the similar zones in the corresponding part of Germany, which is the area between the phyllite zone and the Harz Mountains hosting very diverse and rich mineralization.
Direct applications in agriculture are among the most prospective development lines of geothermal water and energy. In many countries such uses have already been ongoing. Poland also has suitable natural conditions and geothermal waters’ potential for agricultural development as well as for applications related to agriculture. Moreover, such applications in agriculture – if taking place after earlier use of geothermal waters e.g. for energetic or other purposes – would be the realization of the idea of the closed cycle economy. The first research and development works on geothermal waters and energy applications in agriculture in Poland were carried out in the early 1990s. In recent years this subject has once again sparked a growing interest. The paper presents geothermal water resources potential as well as circumstances, rationale, selected relevant estimations and proposed zones in the country for their uses (as raw material and heat source) in the agricultural sector of the country. The use of geothermal waters in agriculture would be an important element in the chain of agricultural production and agri-food processing, contributing to the increase in the use of locally available natural resources, as well as reducing emissions when using these resources for energetic purposes. The topic is presented against the background of a brief review of the state of geothermal water applications in agriculture in the world and in Europe, which convinces the legitimacy and need for the development of such use of geothermal water as a raw material for agriculture also in Poland.
The subject matter of the articles published in Mineral Resources Management covers issues related to minerals and raw materials, as well as mineral deposits, with particular emphasis on:
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