More brown coal mining: A Yes and a No
The government has moved to enable further opencast brown coal mining at the Bílina mine. The decision opens the way for Severočeské doly, a subsidiary of ČEZ, to access another 100 million to 120 million tonnes of coal.
“Relevant administrative proceedings regarding the utilisation of the new mining area conducted by the Czech Mining Authority [ČBÚ] and the Ministry of Industry and Trade will ensure that the coal is used primarily to produce heat,” said PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrat) following a cabinet meeting held in the north Bohemian city of Ústí nad Labem.
However, there was no such support when it came to determining the fate of Jan Dienstl, Pavel Tykač and Tomáš Fohler’s Severní energetická and its ČSA mine. The current delimitation of the mining area will stand, with Horní Jiřetín and Černice protected from the demolition required to make way for the extraction of more brown coal. It is expected that coal mining at ČSA within the current limits will exhaust the accessible coal around 2022. Future governments will be able to reconsider the fate of the mine, where about 250 million tonnes of coal lie on the banned side of the line. “It seems most likely that coal extraction will cease at the ČSA site. However, if the nuclear power station Dukovany cannot stay in operation beyond 2025 while the building of new nuclear capacities gets delayed, the energy sector might find itself in dire need of that coal,” said Jan Mládek, the industry and trade minister.
The environment ministry has ensured that the boundaries of the Bílina mine will creep no closer than 500 metres from surrounding settlements. Severočeské doly will now have to apply for a permit to perform mining activities in the given area. The approval process and mining preparations will take four years.
The government’s decision was welcomed by head of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions Josef Středula, even though he had previously demanded the lifting of the mining limits in both cases. “The decision is only logical and it moves in the right direction. It is especially important for the future of heat generation in the country,” Středula said.