Miners protest underground as Poland moves to phase out coal


Polish authorities and mining unions said on Thursday an agreement on a plan to restructure the country’s unprofitable and polluting coal industry was imminent, as hundreds of workers protested the government’s intention to close the mines refused to come back to the surface.

Some minors have remained in hiding since Monday, when the demonstration began. From two mines the movement has grown to 10. Other miners staged shorter protests in the coal mining region in the south of the country, a spokesperson for one of the unions said. Reuters Wednesday.

Poland is more dependent on coal than any other state in the European Union. Fossil fuel provides nearly 80% of its energy needs, with 8% of this electricity coming from a single coal mine, Turow.

The country is also the only member of the bloc that has not pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Since the 1990s, governments have grappled with a struggling national coal industry. All of them – including the current one – ultimately failed to implement the restructuring plans.

“We believe that it is impossible to implement these proposals without the full approval of the unions,” Karol Manys, spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin, said in July after several hours of discussions between the government and leaders of mining unions the Daily Sun Express reported.

German model

Two months later, the government and the unions now say they are ready to adopt the German restructuring model. The plan would require the drafting of a detailed timetable for the gradual mine closures and the adjustment of production to demand from power plants.

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Germany’s plan for get out of coal by 2038 was approved by Parliament in July. The phase-out program includes financial compensation to mining companies, power plant operators, affected regions and employees who switch from coal to renewables as an energy source.

President Andrzej Duda’s administration initially set a goal of shutting down all coal mines by 2040. Poland had to halt production at 12 state-owned coal mines in June for three weeks due to the spread of the COVID-19. Interviews with the unions then showed that the deadline needed to be adjusted to mitigate the effects on the local economy.

The government is now aiming for 2050, while the unions want to continue operating the coal mines until 2060. “Maybe we can meet halfway?”, Said regional solidarity union leader Dominik Kolorz Bloomberg Wednesday late.

Negotiations with the unions continue on Thursday and a final agreement on a timetable could be reached by the end of the week.

By Cecilia Jamasmie for Mining.com

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