Gov't signs coal mining transformation deal with protesting unions

Gov't signs coal mining transformation deal with protesting unions Hanna Bardoń/PAP

Unions from Poland's mining region of Silesia on Friday signed an agreement with a government delegation on the principles and timing of the transformation of the country's mining industry, whereby the last Polish coal mine will be closed down in 2049.

The negotiations have been ongoing since mid-September. The deal will now have to be notified to the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

Head of the government delegation Artur Sobon said the agreement defines a model of "a fair and just transformation path for the Polish mining and power industry."

Dominik Kolorz, a Solidarity union head, expressed a positive view of the deal but said the agreement de facto meant the shutting down of Polish mining over a longer term.

"We have signed the liquidation of one of the biggest sectors in the history of Poland," Kolorz said, pointing out that the last Polish mine will stop extracting coal in 2049. Until that time, the mining industry will be subsidised by the government.

The agreement ends an underground protest of some 200 miners that lasted since Monday and calls off a planned Friday demonstration in the southern city of Ruda Slaska.

Later on Friday, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki called the agreement "a breakthrough."

"I said on many occasions that Silesia is a special region for me. So I'm more than happy about today's agreement with representatives of the mining sector which can easily be called a breakthrough," Morawiecki wrote on Facebook.

"Through cooperation we will map out a new path for the whole Silesia, where new technologies, ecology and Polish mining traditions will co-exist to build Poland's power in energy and economy to match the challenges of the 21st century!" the prime minister wrote.