poland_round_icon_640The Polish economy has grown every year since 1992 by an average annual rate of 4.2%.  In 2018, GDP growth was 5.2% and, on a purchasing power parity basis, per capita GDP is now three quarters of the European Union average.  Unemployment has fallen steadily over recent years, to 3.9% in 2018 or around half the EU average.  Poland’s population has been stable over the last thirty years;  recent emigration has been largely balanced by immigration from Ukraine.



General data






€ billion


Per capita GDP


12 900

Coal is of strategic importance to the Polish economy.  Compared with other EU member states, Poland has much larger reserves and makes good use of hard coal and lignite for electricity production with a 78.3% share in 2018 (133.0 TWh).  Hard coal reserves total 22.3 billion tonnes, located mostly in the Upper Silesian and Lublin coal basins, while lignite reserves amount to 1.0 billion tonnes with a further 23.3 billion tonnes of resources.

At 38.3%, Poland’s energy import dependency was well below the EU average of 55.1% in 2017.  The country’s total primary energy supply in 2018 was dominated by coal (47.1%), with oil (28.2%) and gas (15.2%) also taking significant shares, followed by biofuels and waste (7.7%), wind (1.0%) and hydro (0.2%).

In 2018, total gross power generation was 169.9 TWh.  Polish electricity exports have declined since 2015 such that net imports reached 5.7 TWh in 2018.  83.6 TWh or almost half (49.2%) of Polish electricity production was generated at hard coal-fired power plants or from coal gases at coking works and steel plants.  49.3 TWh were generated at lignite-fired power plants, a 29.0% share.  Power generated from wind grew to 12.8 TWh (7.6%);  solar accounted for 0.2%.  Fossil gas (7.4%), biofuels and waste (4.0%), hydro (1.2%) and oil (1.1%) were the other sources of electricity in 2018.  In total, renewable energy sources had a 12.6% share.

Poland is currently building 4.3 GW of new coal-fired power generation capacity:  TAURON Jaworzno III (910 MW), PGE Opole units 5 and 6 (2 ×900 MW), ENERGA Ostrołęka C (1 000 MW) and the 490 MW lignite-fired unit 11 at the PGE Turów power station.  According to the government, these will be the last coal power plants to be built in Poland.  With an otherwise ageing fleet and stricter EU emission standards, these new plants will replace older ones.  Output from coal and lignite plants will thus remain relatively stable through to 2030 when they are expected to deliver at least 113 TWh according to the Energy Policy of Poland to 2040 published in November 2019.

Poland has no nuclear power generation, but plans to construct a nuclear power plant, with the first unit at Żarnowiec or Kopalino in 2033.

Hard coal

Exploitable hard coal reserves are located in Upper Silesia and in the Lublin basin in the east of Poland, with the Upper Silesian coalfield accounting for 78.9% of the total.  The coal reserves in this region contain some 400 coal seams with thicknesses of 0.8 metres to 3.0 metres.  About half of these seams are economically workable.  71.6% of the reserves are steam coal, 27.0% coking coal, while other coal types account for the remaining 1.4%.  All hard coal is deep mined at an average working depth of approximately 600 metres, with some over 1 000 metres.  Mining is fully mechanised, with over 90% of coal produced by longwall systems.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the Polish mining industry has been going through a process of transformation.  Hard coal production decreased from 177.4 million tonnes in 1989 to 63.4 million tonnes in 2018.  Over the same period, employment in the Polish hard coal mining sector decreased from 407 000 to 82 843 employees at the end of 2018.

Despite the significant reduction of mining capacity over almost three decades, Poland remains by far the largest hard coal producer in Europe.  The largest coal mining company, POLSKA GRUPA GÓRNICZA (PGG – Polish Mining Group) was established in May 2016 when the mines of its predecessor, KOMPANIA WĘGLOWA (KW), were transferred to this newly formed group.  Then, on 1 April 2017, the mines previously owned by KATOWICKI HOLDING WĘGLOWY (KHW) were integrated into PGG.  Other leading coal mining companies are JASTRZĘBSKA SPÓŁKA WĘGLOWA (JSW) and LUBELSKI WĘGIEL „BOGDANKA” (LW „Bogdanka”).  JSW is the EU’s largest coking coal producer, with an output of 10.3 million tonnes of coking coal and 4.7 million tonnes of steam coal in 2018.

Following its earlier privatisation in 2009, a majority (65%) of the shares in LW „Bogdanka” were acquired in 2015 by ENEA, a Polish power utility company.  In 2011, JSW was privatised and listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, although the state retains a majority shareholding.  Other, smaller coal hard coal producers include:  TAURON WYDOBYCIE with three mines;  PG SILESIA mine which the Czech group EPH acquired from KW in 2010, restarting coal production in 2012;  WĘGLOKOKS KRAJ with Bobrek-Piekary mine;  SILTECH mine;  and EKO-PLUS mine.

In 2018, steam coal output of 51.3 million tonnes accounted for the majority (87.8%) of hard coal production.  Coking coal production reached 12.1 million tonnes, mainly by JSW.

Unprofitable mines or units of integrated mines have been transferred to SPÓŁKA RESTRUKTURYZACII KOPALŃ (SRK – Mines Restructuring Company) for their eventual closure.  In 2018, there were fourteen mines or units of mines managed by this restructuring company.

The Polish hard coal mining industry works to ensure the sector’s profitability.  This entails new investment in modernisation, matching production volumes to market demand, reducing costs and increasing productivity.  Structural changes to the industry are already showing promise and the decision in November 2016 of the European Commission to allow state aid for the closure by 2018 of uncompetitive units allowed the process to continue with the co‑operation of investors and trade unions, while alleviating the social and environmental impacts of closing uncompetitive coal mines in line with EU state aid rules.  The Commission concluded that this support would not unduly distort competition.  More recently, on 8 February 2018, the Commission issued its decision extending until the end of 2023 the possibility of granting state aid for the further restructuring of the Polish hard coal mining sector.

Coal exporters and importers have an efficient infrastructure at their disposal in Poland, with cross-border rail links to neighbouring countries and to the Baltic Sea ports of Gdańsk, Szczecin-Świnoujście and Gdynia.  Among these terminals, Gdańsk and Świnoujście can load Capesize vessels.  Hard coal exports from Poland totalled 3.9 million tonnes in 2018.  Most of the shipments were transported overland to neighbouring EU member states, namely the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany, while small volumes were transhipped via the Baltic ports.  In 2018, WĘGLOKOKS traded almost 4 million tonnes of coal, of which 1.3 million tonnes were exported.

In 2018, hard coal imports reached a record 19.7 million tonnes, including 3.5 million tonnes of coking coal, and were dominated by deliveries from Russia (13.5 million tonnes or 68.5%).  Smaller quantities came from the USA (1.5 million tonnes), Australia (1.5 million tonnes), Colombia (1.4 million tonnes), Mozambique, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic.

Irrespective of the large volume of coal imports in 2018, Poland aims to meet its demand for steam coal for power generation from domestic resources.  Indigenous coal will be the foundation of Poland’s energy mix and a key element of its energy security.  The forecast increase in power demand will be covered by sources other than conventional coal-fired power plants.  So while the share of coal in the power generation mix will decline to approximately 60% in 2030, the volume of coal used by the power sector will remain stable.

In order to improve the combustion and gasification of coal through the use of modern technologies, a Clean Coal Technology Centre (CCTW) has been established in Katowice, co-financed with EU funds and co-managed by GŁÓWNY INSTYTUT GÓRNICTWA (GIG – Central Mining Institute) and INSTYTUT CHEMICZNEJ PRZERÓBKI WĘGLA (IChPW – Institute of Chemical Processing of Coal).  Poland also has a well-developed and technically advanced mining machinery and equipment industry.  Together with the research institutes and technology centres KOMAG, EMAG and GIG, machinery and equipment suppliers work with the Polish hard coal industry to develop and modernise mining.


Tall trees at the former Ville lignite mine, Altwald Ville, Erftstadt, Germany © Klaus Görgen | RWE Power AG

Poland exploits its lignite deposits exclusively at surface mines.  Two are located in central Poland and a third lies in the south-west of the country.  In 2018, lignite production was 58.6 million tonnes, 99% of which was used by mine-mouth power plants which generated 49.3 TWh of electricity or 29.0% of Poland’s total gross power generation.

The Bełchatów lignite basin, situated in the central part of Poland, incorporates two lignite fields:  Bełchatów and Szczerców.  In 2018, the Bełchatów mine produced 44.3 million tonnes of lignite or 75.5% of total lignite production in Poland.  Mining this lignite required the removal of some 132.7 million cubic metres of overburden, which equates to an overburden-to-lignite ratio of 3.3 cubic metres per tonne.  The depth of mining operations in the Bełchatów field is about 300 metres and the average calorific value of the fuel is 8 070 kJ/kg.  Bełchatów mine is expected to remain in operation until 2040.  The lignite output is supplied entirely to a mine-mouth power station owned by PGE GiEK, with a capacity of 5 298 MW.  Electricity produced at this power station covers about 20% of domestic power consumption.  Built mainly between 1981 and 1988, it generates the cheapest electricity in Poland.  A new 858 MW unit was put into service in 2011.

In the Turoszów lignite basin, located in the south-west of Poland, reserves are estimated at 290 million tonnes (77.3 Mtce).  In 2018, Turów mine produced 6.5 million tonnes of lignite with a calorific value of 9 500 kJ/kg to supply the 1 498 MW PGE GiEK Turów mine-mouth power station.  In 2018, some 22.6 million cubic metres of overburden were removed, giving a stripping ratio of 4.0 cubic metres per tonne.  Turów mine is expected to be in operation until 2045.

The Bełchatów and Turów lignite mines, as well as the four adjacent power plants, belong to PGE Górnictwo i Energetyka Konwencjonalna (PGE GiEK), one of the six companies in the majority state-owned Polish utility POLSKA GRUPA ENERGETYCZNA (PGE Capital Group).  Headquartered in Bełchatów, PGE GiEK has operations in four voivodships.  It is a leader in the Polish lignite mining sector with a market share of approximately 87%.  It is also the biggest electricity producer in Poland, satisfying over 36% of domestic power demand in some months of the year.

The Pątnów-Adamów-Konin (PAK) lignite basin, located in central Poland between Warsaw and Poznań, has been producing lignite for over fifty years and now generates approximately 8.5% of Poland’s electricity needs.  There are two active mining sites:  Konin and Adamów, belonging to ZESPÓŁ ELEKTROWNI PĄTNÓW-ADAMÓW-KONIN (ZE PAK Group) which was listed on the Warsaw stock exchange in October 2012.  The mines and power plants are operated by two subsidiary companies.

PAK KWB Konin SA has three mines:  Jóźwin IIB, Drzewce and Tomisławice which together produced 6.8 million tonnes of lignite in 2018, requiring the removal of 50.7 million cubic metres of overburden (a stripping ratio of 7.4 cubic metres per tonne).  Working depths are between 25 metres and 80 metres.  The extracted fuel has an average calorific value of 9 220 kJ/kg and is supplied to three mine-mouth power plants:  Pątnów I with an installed capacity of 1 244 MW, Pątnów II (474 MW) and Konin (583 MW).  Lignite production at Konin is planned through to 2030, although only the Tomisławice surface mine will be working after 2020.

PAK KWB Adamów SA operated three surface mines, namely Adamów, Władysławów and Koźmin.  Following the completion of mining and mine decommissioning, only the Adamów mine remains.  Its output has been reduced as this mine also nears completion, scheduled for 2020.  In 2018, lignite production of 0.8 million tonnes was supplied to the 600 MW ZE PAK Adamów power station.  5.6 million cubic metres of overburden were removed, which implies a stripping ratio of 7.0 cubic metres per tonne.

The average productivity at Poland’s lignite mines was 6 800 tonnes per man-year in 2018 and employment totalled 8 583 people.  Poland’s lignite mining areas can maintain their annual output at current levels of around 60 million tonnes;  lignite is expected to play a stable and important role in Poland’s energy supply until at least 2030.  Beyond then, the Złoczew deposit has 611 million tonnes of exploitable reserves while the Ościsłowo deposit has 50 million tonnes and both are considered prospective by the government in its strategic forecast to 2040. The much larger Gubin deposit of 1 624 million tonnes is seen as a backup energy resource, if required.


Coal resources and reserves*

as at 1.1.2019

Resources hard coal


61 436

Resources lignite


23 315

Reserves hard coal



Reserves lignite


1 047

Primary energy production


Total primary energy production



Hard coal (saleable output)

Mt / Mtce

63.4 / 51.7

Lignite (saleable output)

Mt / Mtce

58.6 / 16.6

Saleable coal quality

Hard coal net calorific value


21 000‑28 000

Lignite net calorific value


7 400‑10 300

Hard coal ash content

% a.r.


Lignite ash content

% a.r.


Hard coal moisture content

% a.r.


Lignite moisture content

% a.r.


Hard coal sulphur content

% a.r.


Lignite sulphur content

% a.r.


Coal imports / exports


Hard coal imports



Hard coal exports



Lignite imports



Primary energy consumption


Total primary energy consumption



Hard coal consumption



Lignite consumption



Power supply


Total gross power generation



Net power imports (exports)



Total final power consumption

TWh (est.)


Power generation from hard coal

TWh gross


Power generation from lignite

TWh gross


Hard coal power generation capacity

MW net

19 195

Lignite power generation capacity

MW net

8 049



Direct in hard coal mining



Direct in lignite mining



* Source: Państwowy Instytut Geologiczny (Polish Geological Institute) as at 31 December 2018