Poland’s largest coal producer, the state-owned PGG, will announce significant cuts in coal production and the closure of several mines within days as part of a restructuring plan that is expected to spark protests from miners, industry sources said.
Poland produces nearly 80% of its electricity from coal and is the only member of the European Union to pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050.
PGG management will meet with union representatives on Tuesday to present the restructuring plan.
According to two sources familiar with the situation, the proposal will include the closure of several mines and keeping only the most efficient ones open, as well as lower wages.
One source said that as a result, annual production of PGG will be cut by more than 10%, but not in half. Another person said the goal could be to completely phase out coal mines in the Silesian coal region by 2036.
The mines designated for closure will be transferred to state-owned SRK, which is phasing out them. Miners will be offered huge severance pay and those close to retirement will be offered paid leave.
A PGG spokesman declined to comment. Union representatives declined to comment. Earlier this year, trade unions criticized the government for not stopping coal imports from Russia during the growing reserves in domestic mines.
The mine restructuring plan is being implemented shortly after incumbent President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), won the presidential elections in Poland, which was important for PiS to continue its reforms.
The ruling party came to power in 2015 thanks in part to pledges to support coal. Since then, it has gradually closed a number of mines and phased out new coal projects, while providing incentives for investment in solar energy.
Government officials, however, have repeatedly stated that coal will remain an important source of energy for Poland for a long time to come.