Polish coal import should be analyzed in two dimensions: before and after joining European Union. In early 1990s it was rather small and consisted mainly of coking coal. Shortly after restructuring Polish mines and privatization of energy industry, some of power companies newly owned by foreign entities introduced different policy of fuel purchases, not necessarily favorable for the coal producers. To stop large increase of coal import from Russia and Czech Republic, government passed few laws and introduced quotas.
When Poland entered EU in 2004 all the protectionist laws were no longer valid. Also, further unsuccessful restructuring of mining industry and increased demand for coal from the energy sector resulted in insufficiency of this fuel. Coal producers had to back out from contracts abroad and redirect deliveries for domestic consumers. And although they managed to supply energy sector with just enough commodity, power and heat producers alongside with smaller consumers started to look around for some alternative suppliers and found most of them behind the eastern border. Other factor that influenced this process was rather low dollar exchange rate to most national currencies. As a result, between 2004 and 2008 Polish coal import was increased by 331%.
Between 2004 and 2013 Poland was importing mainly steam coal (on average 78%). The largest volume of imported coal was noted in 2011: 12,7 million tons of steam coal and 2,3 million tons of coking coal. Figure bellow shows how volume of hard coal imported to Poland in the last decade was changing over the years (million tons).