CJEU starts hearing on Turow open-cast mine

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has begun its hearing on the case of the Turow lignite mine, near the Czech border.

In September, the same court imposed a daily fine on Poland of EUR 500,000 for failing to suspend operations at the mine.

The Czech Republic filed a complaint with the court owing to fears that the mine threatens their ground-water supplies.

Piotr Dziadzio, a Polish deputy climate minister, argued before the court that the Czechs' arguments concerning lack of ground water on the Czech side are "unfounded."

"We have a number of analyses which... clearly show that these arguments are too far-fetched compared to the actual state of affairs," he said.

Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Smolek disagreed, saying Prague has scientific proof that the Turow mine's impact on the environment is much bigger than Polish estimates show.

However, Dziadzio quoted reports by Czech geological services that he said confirmed Poland's stance.

He also said the mine's current concession, valid until 2026, had been issued in accordance with Polish and EU laws.

Both Dziadzio and Smolek reconfirmed that Poland and the Czech Republic seek an amicable solution through negotiations that have been going on for several months now.

Despite the CJEU issuing an injunction in May calling for the suspension of work at the mine, operations continued with the Polish government arguing that it supplies a power plant at Turow, which is important to the security of both national and European energy supplies.

Both the mine and the power plant are owned by the Polish state-controlled energy company PGE.

Poland is trying to reach a bilateral agreement with the Czech Republic, the latest round of talks was held in Prague on Friday.