The Turow lignite coal mine and power plant located near the town of Bogatynia, Poland, which is also located close to the borders of the Czech Republic and Germany, recently announced plans to further expand production at its open-pit mine, according to the AP.
With Poland set to remain heavily reliant on coal for energy, the state-controlled PGE utility is aiming to extend its license to mine in Turow until 2044, which is due to expire in March.
The mine will increase its surface area to 30 km2, which would also extend the area to just 70 meters from the Czech border.
The Czech Environment Ministry objected to the Polish project in November based on its environmental impact and set a series of conditions like ensuring water supplies. If the Czech requests are ignored, the country could file complaints or lawsuits with the European Union (EU) level.
Polish President Andrzej Duda visited the Turow mine to celebrate Miners’ Day and show support.
He said Poland will need to reduce its use of coal, but a shift should allow for the “reasonable use of our natural resources.”
“Let’s keep looking for new energy sources, let’s continue our research, but we should not accept the point of view saying that we must completely do away with our industry tomorrow,” Duda said. “We will not be forced into that.”
Poland relies on coal for 80% of its energy and the government aims to reduce that very gradually, to a still hefty 60% by 2040.
The head of the Solidarity trade union, Piotr Duda, said becoming carbon neutral by 2050, as the EU proposed, would mean a “disaster not only for Poland’s mining and energy sector but for all of Poland’s economy.”
Poland has closed some mines but is planning to open new ones.