Thin coal seams found in the Lions Cove Formation, Polonia Glacier Group (Middle Eocene, upper part) at King George Bay, King George Island (South Shetland Islands, West Antarctica), represent lustrous (vitrine) brown-coal metaphase. The coal from the lower seam represents carbonized wood, probably angiosperm, that from the upper ones originated due to accumulation of branches or larger wood fragments and leaf remains. These coals are slightly older than metaxylite brown coal previously described from Admiralty Bay on King George Island, and dated at Eocene-Oligocene boundary. Both coal occurrences are evidences for a warm climate which prevailed in the Antarctic Peninsula sector during the Arctowski Interglacial (ca 50—32 Ma).
Coal reserves in the Czech Republic are estimated to be 10 billion tons – hard coal about 37%, brown coal about 60% and lignite 3%. Hard coal is produced in Northern Moravia. In 2017 the production of hard coal was 5.5 million tons. Brown coal is mined in North-Western Bohemia − the production of brown coal in 2017 was 38.1 million tons. Significant quantities of hard coal are exported to: Slovakia, Austria, Germany and Hungary. In accordance with the National Energy Policy, coal will remain the main source of energy in the country in the future, despite the increased use of nuclear energy and natural gas. The government expects that in 2030 energy from coal will account for 30.5% of energy produced. There are five coal companies in the Czech Republic: OKD, a.s., the only hard coal producer and four brown coal mining companies: Severočeské Doly a.s., owned by ČEZ, the largest producer of brown coal, Vršanská uhelná a.s., with coal resources until 2055, Severní energetická a.s. with the largest brown coal reserves in the Czech Republic and Sokolovska uhelná a.s., the smallest mining company extracting lignite. OKD operates coal in two mines Kopalnia Důlní závod 1 – (consists of three mines: ČSA Mine, Lazy Mine, Darkov Mine) and Mine Důlní závod 2 (ttwo mines Sever, Jih). The article also presents a pro-ecological solution for the management of waste heaps after coal enrichment – a plant for the enrichment of coal waste from the Hermanice heap.
The paper presents brown coal as one of the two basic domestic energy raw materials apart from hard coal. Historically, the use of brown coal in Poland is primarily fuel for the power plants. It was used for the production of lignite briquettes in small quantities and as fuel for local boiler houses and as an addition to the production of fertilizers (Konin and Sieniawa). At present, after changes in the case of the quality of fuels used in local boiler plants, brown coal remains as a fuel for the power plants in almost 100%. Currently, the brown coal industry produces about 35% of the cheapest electricity. The cost of electricity production is more than 30% lower than the second basic fuel – hard coal. The existing fuel and energy complexes using brown coal, with the Bełchatów complex at the forefront, are now an important guarantor of Poland’s energy security. In contrast to the other fuels such as: oil, natural gas or hard coal, the cost of electricity production from brown coal is predictable in the long term and almost insensitive to fluctuations in global commodity and currency markets. Its exploitation is carried out using the high technological solutions and respecting all environmental protection requirements, both in the area of coal extraction and electricity generation. Importantly, the fuel and energy complexes using brown coal showed a positive profitability so far and generated surpluses enabling the financing of maintenance and development investments, also in other energy segments. In particular, the sector did not require and has yet not benefited from public aid in the form of, for example, subsidies or tax concessions. Polish brown coal mining has all the attributes necessary for long-term development to ensure the country’s energy security. The document which is a road map for the brown coal industry is the Program for the Brown Coal Mining Sector in Poland adopted by the Council of Ministers on May 30, 2018. The Program covers the years 2018–2030 with a perspective up to 2050 and presents the development directions of the brown coal mining sector in Poland together with the objectives and actions necessary to achieve them. The Program presents a strategy for the development of brown coal mining in Poland in the first half of the 21st century. Possible scenarios have developed in active mining and energy basins as well as in new regions with significant resources of this mineral. This is to enable the most efficient use of deposits in the Złoczew and Konin regions as well as the Gubin and Legnica brown coal basins, and then deposits located in the Rawicz region (Oczkowice) as well as other prospective areas that may eventually replace the existing active mining and energy areas. This will allow power plants to continue to produce inexpensive and clean electricity, using the latest global solutions in the field of clean coal technologies.
The purpose of the investigation was to assess the suitability of sewage sludge, brown coal and a mix of sewage sludge and brown coal to be used for fertilizing a light soil with an increased content of lead (I0 ) and slightly contaminated with cadmium (II0 ). The subject of tests were soil and plant samples taken from a pot experiment conducted during the years 2007-2009. The tests determined the effect of the type of fertilization on the pH and sorption properties of the soil, the contents of heavy metals in the soil and in the plants, and the volume of crops. The fertilization types applied had an effect of slightly increasing the soil pH. The application of sewage sludge, brown coal and the mix of sewage sludge with brown coal to the soil resulted in an improvement of the sorption properties of the soil. In the soil treated with sewage sludge and the mix of sewage sludge with brown coal, an increase in the contents of Cd, Zn and Pb was found. This increase was, however, small and did not change the degree of soil contamination with heavy metals. In the above-ground parts of plants fertilized with brown coal the concentration of heavy metals was lower than in biomass from plants cultivated on the control combination. The application of sewage sludge and the mix of sewage sludge with brown coal generally resulted also in a reduction of metal contents in the above-ground parts of the plants. This was the effect of enriching the soil with an organic substance that improves the sorption properties. From among the fertilization combinations tested, the application of either sewage sludge or the mix of sewage sludge with brown coal had the most favourable effect on the crop volume. It resulted in a twofold increase in the yield compared to the control combination.
According to International Energy Agency (IEA) energy security is the continuous supply of energy at acceptable prices. National energy is based primarily on its own energy resources such as hard coal and brown coal. The 88% of electric energy production from these minerals gives us full energy independence. Additionally, the energy production costs from these raw materials are the lowest compared to other technologies. Of these two, the energy produced from brown coal is characterized by the lowest unit technical generating cost. Poland has the resources of these minerals for decades to come, the experience related to mining and processing them, scientific and design facilities and technical facilities and factories producing machines and equipment for their own needs, as well as for export. Coal is and should remain an important source of electricity and heat supply in Poland for the next 25–50 years. It is one of the most reliable and profitable energy sources. This policy may be difficult in the next decades due to the exhaustion of the available resources of hard and brown coal. The conditions for the construction of new mines, and thus for the development of coal mining in Poland, are very interdisciplinary in legal, environmental, economic and reputational terms. Germany has similar problems. Despite the fact that it is an image of a country investing in renewable energy sources, which are pioneers of energy production from RES, in reality hard and brown coal are still the primary sources utilized to produce electric energy.
The national power industry is based primarily on its own energy mineral resources such as hard and brown coal. Approximately 80% of electrical energy production from these minerals gives us complete energy independence and the cost of its production from coal is the lowest in comparison to other sources. Poland has, for many decades had vast resources of these minerals, the experience of their extraction and processing, the scientific-design facilities and technical factories manufacturing machines and equipment for own needs, as well as for export. Nowadays coal is and should be an important source of electrical energy and heat for the next 25–50 years, because it is one of the most reliable and price acceptable energy sources. This policy may be disturbed over the coming decades due to the depletion of active resources of hard and brown coal. The conditions for new mines development as well as for all coal mining sector development in Poland are very complicated in terms of legislation, environment, economy and image. The authors propose a set of strategic changes in the formal conditions for acquiring mining licenses. The article gives a signal to institutions responsible for national security that without proposed changes implementation in the legal and formal process it, will probably not be possible to build next brown coal, hard coal, zinc and lead ore or other minerals new mines.
A forecast of the negative impact exerted on the environment by selected trace elements in “Bełchatów” Power Plant has been prepared on the basis of the results of investigations into these elements’ distribution carried out as part of earlier research on coal from “Bełchatów” Field and the data on updated analyses of the content of these elements in 55 brown coal samples from test boreholes. Work in “Bełchatów” Power Plant, which is supplied with coal from “Szczerców” Field, will be accompanied by trace elements transfer. On the basis of the conducted investigations it has been found that the biosphere is most threatened by mercury emissions. As shown by the presented results of analyses and calculations, the emissions of mercury in “Bełchatów” Power Plant are low. Mercury is accumulated chiefl y in gypsum produced in the FGD plant. The content of mercury in slag and ash is low.