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Today we start a series of reports which are to familiarise our readers with the general situation on Polish stone market. We start with some information from Lower Silesia. We have chosen this region  not accidentally since here we can find Strzegom - Polish capital city of stone industry, and here is also Wrocław where the largest stone fair in Poland are held. Lower Silesia has the greatest number of mines, the largest variety of deposits (Strzegom granite being the most famous), the greatest number of processing plants in Poland, stone importers, producers and sellers of stone processing machines and accessories.


According to the latest data of Polish Statistical Office (February 2009) there are 1724 companies in the province of Lower Silesia which deal with stone industry. That number includes 1432 companies which deal with stone processing. Besides, in Lower Silesia there are 121 quarries of block stone and aggregates and 171 companies which produce machines and devices used for stone quarrying and processing or offering services related with stone installations, repairs and maintenance. Among the stone companies we can mostly find small family businesses which employ max. 9 people - there are as many as 1367 such companies. Only two companies employ more than 50 people. The number of employed people is slightly different in case of quarries -as many as 22 quarries employ more than 50 people. The total employment in stone industry in Lower Silesia might be estimated to be minimum 7,000  stone companies workers, minimum 2,000 working in quarries and at least 2,000 working in the companies producing machines, in shops which sell stone products, etc.  We may suppose, however, that all these data are highly underestimated and the stone companies declare lower employment that in fact it is. It is related with a seasonal character of stonemasons' work.

Among the mining companies which possess the largest deposits there are two major companies:  Borowskie Kopalnie Granitu sp. z o.o. and Granit Strzegom S.A. Among the leading mines we can also find such companies as Wekom sp. z o.o., Piramida sp. z o.o., Zimnik sp. z o.o., Grabinex sp. z o.o., and Ted-Rob s.c etc.. The topic concerning mines and extraction has been discussed in a greater detail in this issue in the report written by Tadeusz Smakowski. Among the sandstone plants the leading one is Kopalnie Piaskowca S.A. (Bolesławiec) owned by Kamieniarz company from Kielce. The company deals with extracting Żerkowice, Wartowice, Żeliszów and Rakowiczki sandstone. Apart from Kopalnie Piaskowca S.A. we need to mention Kamieniarz Bożena Modlińska company with its headquarters in Kielce but extracting Czaple, Wartowice, Nowa WieśGrodziska sandstone in Lower Silesia.

Other potentates are Hoffman, a German company, which exploits Wartowice stone and Gruszecki company which extracts Czaple and Skała sandstone. Glob Granit has its headquarters in Piława Górna and in Nowa Ruda, Inter Granit in Ząbkowice Śląskie whilst Skalimex-Grantin Sp. z o.o. in Sobótka. Gruszecki company is also worth mentioning here.

If we speak about stone wholesales the leading companie are also situated near Strzegom. These companies are M+Q Polska in Jaroszów, Brachot Hermant or R&R Granity. Except for Strzegom, there are also wholesales in Wrocław which play an important role in Lower Silesia. These are Ingemar Group Polska Sp.z o.o., Piaskowiec Polski and the already mentioned Gruszecki company which has its office in Bielany Wrocławskie. Recently Euro Granit Adamus company has been expanding its activity in Lower Silesia region. When speaking about producers of aggregates we should mention Kopalnia Graniczna company in Goczałków. Also Kopalnia Granitu Gniewków deals with aggregates. Granit Strzegom S.A. is just finishing its large investment which is its aggregate plant. Last year Zimnik mine repaired a side track in order to transport aggregates widening that production department at the same time.

Stone plants in Lower Silesia are not located proportionally throughout the whole province. The largest mine and stone processing field is situated in Świdnica district where we can find Strzegom granite mines. There are 489 stone companies there. Many of them (those that deal with stone exploitation and processing) use local deposits and specialises in producing elements typical of Strzegom granite. Therefore, the production of construiction materials prevails over tomb and decorative materials. We have been observing that process since early 1990s when due to the import of colourful stones the local material ceased to be used for decorative purposes developing at the same time its construction function.  

Slightly fewer companies are situated in Dzierżoniów district - 236, in Jawor district -151 and in the city of Wrocław - 135. The fewest stone companies in Lower Silesia can be found in Milicz district - 4, Góra district - 8, Wołów district - 9 and Trzebnica district - 11. The dominating form of property in stone companies and quarries of Lower Silesia is private property. Almost 100 per cent of stone companies is owned by Polish citizens. In case of construction stone and aggregates mines 73 subjects are owned by Poles, 12 is owned by foreign companies, 3 by the State and 28 quarries have mixed form of property. Stone branch in Lower Silesia is, surprisingly, a young branch. Currently, there are only about 103 companies which were established before 1989. The greatest number of them was developed after 1989 as a result of taking over (by private businessmen) the property of mines and stone processing plants which formerly were owned by the State. Fired stonemasons opened their own small stone companies. From 1990 to 2009 more than 1300 new stone companies were established. As many as 123 companies were established last year.

If we want to distinguish Lower Silesian stone companies paying attention to the type of services they offer we must divide them into four groups. The most numerous group are the companies which provide construction services and those that deal with making tombs and small stone elements used in interiors such as window sills, table tops, etc. They buy a semi-finished product in the form of slabs with a finished face and prepare a final product cutting out a shape (by means of a saw, often a hand saw) or putting a print. These companies belong to the group which employs max. 9 people. To that group we must also add the second group companies which provide assembly services with the use of a given material, maintenance companies, and small producers of stone art who, by means of a chiselling method, produce garden sculptures, plastic interior elements, jewellery made of precios stones such as serpentynite or basalt. These two groups consitute 90 per cent of stone companies in Lower Silesia region.The third group, which constitutes about 5 per cent of all companies, are small but well-equipped companies where we can find professional machines. They specialise in a specified stage of stone processing and they cooperate with similar companies. Finally, in the fourth group, which constitutes about 5 per cent, we can find companies which employ more than 9 people (the research says that the employment in these companies is usually more than 20 people). They offer full service (also design, assembly and maintenance services).


Generally speaking, the stone won from the Lower Silesian deposits can be classified in two groups. The first group includes a stone of high monolithic structure and, at the same time, of a wide spectrum of applications (see Table 1), especially in general construction where a special importance is given, apart from mechanical factors, to aesthetic qualities and the possibility of getting a specified shape. The second group which includes stones widely used in construction and road building (see Table 2) but technical properties of Lower Silesian deposits reduce the application of this material.

In Lower Silesia in the first group the winning a year is as follows: granite - 1.948 thousand tons (mainly Strzegom area - from 20 per cent to a very good monolithic structure), marble - 7 thousand tons (Marianna- a very good monolithic structure, Sławniowice - 7 per cent of monolithic structure), sandstone - 59 thousand tons (mainly Wartowice and Żerkowice - 20-30 per cent of monolithic structure), serpentynite - 126 thousand tons (Nasławice - a very good monolithic structure), syenite - 437 thousand tons (Kośmin - 25 per cent of  monolithic structure). In the second group there are stones whose technical properties and aesthetic qualities qualify them for a careful working out of winning plans and wider application possibilities. Currently, the raw materials from this group are most often used as road-metals, in a railway engineering, or as milled stone or stone dust used in the production of asphalts, drainage systems or stonewares resistant to acids.{mospagebreak}


We shall focus on Strzegom here. The most interesting way of possible promotion of stone in this specific town is taking advantage of stone in the buildings of Strzegom. Unfortunately, nothing like this happens. The dominating material in the town is concrete and the use of Strzegom stone is not more frequent than in the other regions of Poland. Only the initiatives of local companies remind the residents and visitors that we are in a place famous for its stone. For example, granite sculptures which stand on the market square after the sculpture open-air which was organized by the company owned by Zenon Kiszkiel. The town authorities forgot about the promotion of granite - it is enough to take a look at Festyn Kamienia which was not a successful event. Stonemasons also seldom advertise their services in local media. It is a result of the fact that the product of Lower Silesian stone industry is seldom directed to individual customers.  


The current road network (trunk and province roads) and railway network in Lower Silesia, as regards their localisation and density, is capable of meeting transport needs of main construction and road stone deposits. However, the reports conducted for the needs of Marschall Office in Wrocław show clearly the need of thorough reorganisation which will enable the change of transport policy. In the reports we can find four main transport directions, whose development is predicted by Strategic Plans of Lower Silesia Development by the year 2020 which have been accepted by local authorities. Priority was given to road, railway, air and inland navigation transport. Restoring the importance of the last one would relieve road transport.

The Land Development Plan of Lower Silesia region specifies the most important goals which are to be achieved in the next 14 years as regards the improvement of transport infrastructure. This project specified the plan of rebuilding of the transport network. The fact that there are so many and so urgent road investments contributed to the creation of the Long-Term Investment Plan by Seymik of Lower Silesia province.

EU funds may come with a helping hand here. They may help to create a regionally coordinated road modernisation plan. Special economic zones are first to receive this financial support. In Lower Silesia we have Kamiennogórska Specjalna Strefa Ekonomiczna Małej Przedsiębiorczości, Wałbrzyska Specjalna Strefa Ekonomiczna, Legnicka Specjalna Strefa Ekonomiczna. Within these zones there are also communes with a large stone potential: Dzierżoniów, Nowa Ruda, Strzegom, Strzelin, Żarów, Nowogrodziec, Jawor, Złotoryja. Railway transport, being a great alternative in heavy load transport also needs a thorough modernisation. The planned changes in the system of railway network in Lower Silesia do not say anything about new connections or about the adaptation of the existing connections to goods transport near stone mines. Only Zagłębie Strzegomskie may to some extent take advantage of the possibilities the railway offers. However, also here the form of transport is not the best we can imagine. For construction stone industry the station in Strzegom is not important. It is not worth transporting blocks by trains. If the railway is used then the containers are unloaded at other stations, for example in Brzeg, and transported by road to Strzegom.

Not only Strzegom is waiting for a better railway infrastructure. Kłodzko - Wrocław, or Jelenia Góra - Wałbrzych - Wrocław roads also need urgent modernisation. They are important for stone industry since in these areas there are numerous aggregate mines and the railway transport is the only reasonable way of distributing this material inside Poland and abroad. As we see, the mines are still going to be operated by road transport.


Due to the density of stone companies in Lower Silesia, both the branch and the individual customers are provided with a wide offer of different stones. We can see it in Lower Silesian cemeteries where tombs, though their shape is not different than in other regions in Poland (Chinese and Italian models are dominating), are made of a great variety of materials. According to the data collected by us in different Lower Silesian companies which deal with selling tombs, the most popular is still Strzegom granite. It is mainly a result of its price, although many customers appreciate the beauty of grey grained granite. Customers also often buy such stones as Impala, Balmoral, Imperial, Baltic Green, Baltic Brown and Vanga, although their sale always depends on the customers' tastes and on the fashion in different cemeteries. Among the stones used for interior decorations Indian materials, such as Kashmir Gold or Shivakashi, are still very attractive. The customers are more and more interested in Rain Forest and Verde Bamboo but also, especially for designers, travertines. We can also observe an increasing interest in new surface textures of popular stones.

T. Maciejczyk, W. Opioła
Information from Statistical Office in Wrocław and from the research project from Technical University in Wrocław were used in this article.


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