Poland is rich in useful minerals, primarily solid and liquid fuels: hard coal and oil. The Polish coal basin occupies an area of 3880 sq. Km., And extends in Silesia and in part of the Kielce and Krakow voivodeships, from the Germanic and Czechoslovakian frontiers to almost Krakow. It is estimated that the total reserve of coal which is found up to 1000 m. depth is almost 62,000 million tons, of which 44,000 in Silesia, 2000 in the Dabrowa basin, 14,000 in that of Krakow. For the wealth of coal, Poland is in 4th place among the European states, after Great Britain, Germany and the USSR. Before the war the production of the now Polish fields was around 40 million tons, of which 32 million tons. they came from Silesia; the war seriously damaged the exploitation, because the authorities of the warring states that occupied the coal regions introduced devastating extraction systems (suffice it to say that the largest of the Silesian mines, the “Krol”, was handed over to Poland on fire). In 1921 the production of Polish Silesia was 22 million tons. The state immediately gave its support for the reconstruction of the coal industry, and by 1923 the production had risen to 36 million tons. In 1924 the overproduction of the other European coal centers and the consequent decrease in prices, as well as the crisis experienced by the Polish steel industry, caused a decrease in production (32.2 million tons). In 1927 this had risen to 38 million tons, and reached a maximum of 46.2 million in 1929; then, following the world economic crisis, there was a strong contraction again: 37.5 million tons. in 1930, 38.3 in 1931, 28.8 in 1932, 27.3 in 1933. The number of workers was 123,000 in 1913, 117,000 in 1928, and dropped to 77,000 in 1933.
However, production exceeds domestic consumption, and a large part is exported to the states of northern Europe, via Gdynia (connected to Silesia by the so-called “direct route of coal”) and, to a much lesser extent, via Gdansk, in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Italy and Hungary (before 1924 Germany bought a large part of Polish coal, which in that year forbade its import from Poland).
Oil was known in Poland since the century. XVI, but the exploitation of the fields only began in 1857, when the first Polish oil company, Klobassa, Lukasiewicz i Trzeciecki, was set up in Jasło, who built the first oil refinery in Ulaszowice the following year. Already in 1861 the Austrian railways and the city of Prague were using Polish oil for lighting. In 1864 the drilling of wells by mechanical drilling machines began at Gorlice, and, once the deepest and richest fields were reached, the oil industry took a great development. Subsequently, oil deposits were discovered near Kołomyja, then, in the early years of the century. XIX, in Borysław and Tustanowice, where wells of over 1500 m were drilled. deep, some of which came to produce 100 wagons a day. There was then a crisis of overproduction, the tanks and refineries were insufficient, and the price of crude oil suffered a sharp fall. After 1909, production from the Borysław and Tustanowice fields began to decline; then came the war to seriously damage the region, and when Galicia became part of Poland the wells and in general all the plants were in a very bad state. The drilling works could only be resumed in 1921. The production of crude oil from 2300 tons. in 1884 it rose to 91,600 in 1890, to 326,300 in 1900, to 801,800 in 1905, to 2,053,150 in 1909, and then dropped to 704,870 tons. in 1921. From that year there was a recovery until 1925, when 811.910 tons were produced. of crude oil: then production has always declined, both due to the impoverishment of some fields and the difficulty of proceeding with new drilling, due to the shortage of capital and the economic constraints caused by the world crisis. The production was 723,000 tons. in 1927, of 675,000 in 1929, of 631,000 in 1931, of 551,000 in 1933, of which 422,000 came from the fields of Borysław-Tustanowice, 96,000 from those of Jasło and 33,000 from those of Kołomyja. The number of workers assigned to the wells is approximately 9000. Poland currently ranks 13th among oil producing states.
There were 35 refineries in 1933 (with 3395 workers), the largest of which is that of Drohobycz, belonging to the state and already built by the Austrian government for the manufacture of naphtha fuel; it was then rebuilt and enlarged by the Polish government. In 1933 567,000 tons were distilled. of crude oil, obtaining 91,000 tons. of gasoline, 174,000 of pure petroleum, 30,000 of paraffin, 80,000 of fats and vaseline, 101,000 of mineral oils, etc. About ⅓ of the products are consumed in the country, and the rest exported to Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria and to a small extent also to Italy.
In the oil area, ozocherite or mineral wax is extracted, which outside of Poland is found only on the island of Čeleken (Caspian Sea). The largest deposits are in Borysław, followed by those of Truskawiec, Dżwinacz and Starunia. Another product of the oil area is natural gas, used in industrial plants and in the heating of homes, and from which considerable quantities of gasoline are also extracted. Production was 405 million cubic meters. in 1920, 474 million in 1931 and 437 million in 1932 (in 5th place among all countries in the world, after the United States, Romania, Canada and the Dutch Indies). For Poland 1999, please check estatelearning.com.
Among the metal ores the most abundant are those of zinc, lead and iron. Iron ores are found mainly in the Triassic and Jurassic soils of Silesia and Lesser Poland, between Kielce and Radom; however, they have a low content (30-35%) and are difficult to exploit, so that the Silesian steel industry imports large quantities of iron ore. Production in recent years has been decreasing sharply: it was 454,000 tons in 1923, 546,000 tons in 1927, 660,000 in 1929, 477,000 in 1930, 285,000 in 1931, 77,000 in 1932, 161,000 in 1933: The workers employed in the iron mines, which numbered about 6,000 in 1928, were reduced to just a thousand in 1933.
Much more important are zinc ores, for the production of which, indeed, Poland is one of the first places among European countries. They are extracted for 9 / 10from the deposits of Silesia and neighboring areas (near Bytom, Będzin, Jaworzno, Chrzanów, Olkusz, Siewierz) and for the rest from those of Lesser Poland (mainly from the Triassic strata). The production, before the World War, was around half a million tons. of mineral, but afterwards it has not reached that figure and since 1930, indeed, it has been decreasing sharply, since from 462,000 tons. in 1930 it dropped to 240,000 in 1931 and to 73,000 in 1932; in 1933 it went back to 125,000 tons. The export of zinc ore, however, always has considerable importance for the Polish trade. Lead minerals are also found in Silesia, near Tarnowskie Góry and Olkusz. The production was 18,000 tons. in 1927, 17,000 in 1930, 10,000 in 1931, 6,000 in 1932 and 8,000 in 1933 (1913, 57,000 tons).
In the Carpathian region from Krakow to the Romanian border there are important deposits of rock salt, deposits that are also found in Silesia and Posnania. In SE Poland, Silesia and Warsaw voivodeship numerous saline springs are exploited, which usually give a saturated solution. And salt is also extracted from saline marls, which contain up to 80% pure salt. The major rock salt mines are those of Wieliczka, very famous, and of Bochnia in the Kraków voivodeship, and that of Wapno in Posnania. Production is around half a million tons of salt per year (508,000 in 1927, 569,000 in 1929, 561,000 in 1931 and 450,000 in 1933).
The deposits of rock salt are sometimes alternated with those of kainite and sylvin, potassium salts which serve as an excellent fertilizer; they are found abundant between Stanislawów and Drohobycz (in Kałusz, Turza Wielka, Morszyn, Stebnik and Truskawiec). The production is about 300,000 tons. per year (2000 tons in 1913, 276,000 in 1927, 359,000 in 1929, 299,000 in 1932 and 1933). Potassium salts are in great demand for sugar beet cultivation.