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Czech Republic to extend coal mining amid high demand

PRAGUE (AP) – The Czech Republic has decided to reverse plans to halt mining in a key black coal region to help the country safeguard its power supply amid high demand and the energy crunch prompted by the Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura said yesterday that the state-owned OKD company will extend its mining activities in north-eastern Czech Republic until at least the end of next year, with an analysis to be made on a possible further extension until 2025.

The original plans called for mining to be halted there this year, but “demand for black coal is enormous”, Stanjura said.

Some other European Union (EU) countries are turning back to coal as a replacement for reduced deliveries of Russian natural gas, threatening climate goals in Europe.

Russia has trimmed gas flows to EU countries like Germany, Italy and Austria on top of its gas cutoffs to France, Poland, Bulgaria and others.

A huge excavator digs inside a giant open pit lignite mine, near the town of Most, Czech Republic. PHOTO: AP

OKD’s Chief Executive Roman Sikora said the Czech company was planning to mine 1.3 million metric tonnes of black coal in 2023.

It will be mostly used for generating power and household heating. Coal-fired power plants generate almost 50 per cent of total Czech electricity output.

The decision came after the EU agreed to ban Russian coal starting in August over the war in Ukraine and as it works to reduce the bloc’s energy ties to Russia.

The Czech government aims to phase out coal in energy production by 2033 while increasing the country’s reliance on nuclear power.