They work hundreds of meters underground to extract the materials that build the modern world. This is not an exaggeration: without coking coal there is no steel and without steel there is no civilization that we know of.
Can you imagine a world without cars, modern office buildings or bridges? Virtually everything that surrounds us is related to steel. Even wooden furniture is manufactured in steel production halls where machinery is made mainly of... steel! As a reminder, steel is an alloy of mainly iron and carbon, with several other elements. But coal is the key here. It is the metallurgical material that, when added in correct proportions, makes steel so strong. This is why, for hundreds of years now, steel has been used as the most popular material in construction, engineering and in every aspect of our lives. There has been much talk lately about the path from coal to steel, leading from a mine, through a coke oven and a steel mill, to a factory or a construction site. Even wind turbines, which generate renewable energy, are built with steel! Each ton of coking coal yields approx. 0.70 tons of coke, which is needed for the production of 1.6 to 2.1 tons of metallurgical pig iron. And one wind turbine requires up to 400 tons of steel!
Is coking coal produced in Poland? Of course! The largest producer of this raw material is Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa, a mining company that employs approx. 23 thousand people. JSW owns four mines: Pniówek in Pawłowice, Knurów-Szczygłowice in Knurów, Budryk in Ornontowice and Borynia-Zofiówka-Bzie in Jastrzębie-Zdrój. In each of these mines, miners working in difficult conditions extract raw material, which was placed by the European Union on the list of critical materials, i.e. ones that are difficult to replace and that are strategically important for the development of the EU economy.
Every year, Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa produces approximately 15 million tons of coal, which is then used in Central Europe and in other regions. The coke produced in JSW Group’s coke plants – about 3.2 million tons each year – is also sold internationally. The main buyers are located in Poland, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and India. Interestingly, Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa also intends to enter the Chinese market soon. The opportunities are immense, as the documented recoverable coal reserves amount to 1 billion tons, which guarantees that JSW will maintain its production until 2075.