Coal plays a vital importance for Poland's economy - as coal-fired power plants produce almost 70% of the country's energy. Poland is among the world's leading coalmining nations - with geological reserves in 7.5 bln tons and annual production in 150 mtpa. The country reached a record level in coalmining at the Communist time in 1988 - the nation produces 193 mln tons of coal.
Most of the country's bituminous coal reserves are concentrated in 3 coal basins - Upper Silesian, Lower Silesian, and Lublin - presented with 126 deposits; Upper Silesian basin now contributes about 93% of bituminous coal production in Poland. Lignite and sub-bituminous coal is concentrated mainly in the Central Poland (Belchatów and Konin-Adamów lignite basins) as well as in southwestern part of the country (Turoszów lignite basin); lignite deposits are mined exclusively with open cast method.
Currently 55% of coal-fired power plants in Poland utilize bituminous coal, while 45% work with lignite. Bituminous coal presents 64% in total coal production in Poland; the country exports 13-15 mtpa of coal (mainly bituminous coal) - with rail delivery to neighboring CEE countries as well as transshipping via Gdańsk, Świnoujscie, Szczecin and Gdynia seaports in the Baltic Sea.
State-run Kompania Weglowa is the largest coalminer not only in Poland but also in Europe; the company now operates 24 mines and 9 service companies in the Upper Silesian coal basin. There are also few other large coal operators working in Silesia - such as KHW and JSW, both specializing in coking coal production; Bogdanka Mine is a large operator in Lublin basin. Most of lignite is extracted with companies that unite open pit mine with mine-mouth power plant.
Poland imports about 10 mtpa of bituminous coal (mainly from Russia and Kazakhstan), with less part of import presented with coking coal. The coal import in Poland grew last 5 years (in 2004 it was only 2.5 mtpa).