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Poland sees coal output growing in coming years – minister

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Poland’s coal production is likely to grow in the coming years and the country plans to become less reliant on imports from Russia, the deputy energy minister in charge of restructuring the industry Grzegorz Tobiszowski said on Friday.

The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), which has said coal will remain Poland’s major source of energy for years, won the 2015 parliamentary election, partly on promises to rescue the business and jobs.

Tobiszowski said that Poland will have to adjust coal production to meet local demand.

“The output will grow,” he told reporters.

Tobiszowski said that after Polish firms take over the local assets of France’s EDF, including a 1.8 GW power plant in Rybnik, south of Poland, the plant could burn more Polish coal than Russian coal.

Poland’s coal output stood at 70.4 million tonnes in 2016, 1.8 million tonnes lower than in 2015 as some of the most loss-making mines were being run down as part of the bigger restructuring plan for the industry.

Coal imports from Russia amounted to around 8 million tonnes last year. Poland also relies on Russia’s gas and oil.

On Friday, the energy ministry will announce details of the planned takeover of troubled miner KHW by the country’s biggest coal producer PGG, which was bailed out itself in 2016 by state-run utilities.

PGG owns five mines with annual output of about 30 million tonnes and KHW produces some 10 million tonnes of coal a year from four mines. PGG and KHW employ 32,000 and 13,000 people respectively.

KHW needs about 1 billion zlotys to keep going and Poland has said that unless the two coal mining firms merge before the end of the first quarter KHW might collapse.

State-run utilities agreed to inject the missing cash, while it is unclear whether KHW bondholders agreed to convert the company’s debt to equity as expected by the energy ministry.

Separately, Mariusz Orion Jedrysek, deputy Environment Minister commented on Friday about U.S. president Donald Trump’s order to undo Obama-era climate change regulations and support the coal industry.

“What Donald Trump recently declared on coal means that the time for coal is not that bad,” Jedrysek said.


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