Polish delegation heads for Czech Republic to discuss contested mine deal

A Polish delegation will travel to the Czech Republic this week to determine the final details of an agreement on the Turow lignite mine, ordered by the EU’s top court to close after a Czech environmental complaint, a government spokesperson has said.

The delegation will consist of several government ministers, Piotr Mueller told a private TV broadcaster Polsat News, adding that the Polish government hopes this will speed up the negotiation process.

An agreement on the matter could prompt the Czechs to withdraw the environmental impact complaint it lodged with the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The court ordered the immediate closure of the Turow mine in a preliminary ruling.

The Czechs went to court to get the mine, which lies close to the Czech border, closed due to a reduction in groundwater levels, resulting in a lack of drinking water in the region.

Poland has so far refused to shut down Turow, calling the court's decision "disproportionate" and a threat to the stability of the country's energy system.

The Czech Environment Minister Richard Brabec wrote on Twitter on Monday that the Czech Republic had sent Poland a draft inter-government agreement on the Turow mine.

The agreement, the details of which have not been disclosed, contains the conditions set by the Czech Republic to close the dispute amicably.

Brabec said Polish-Czech negotiations will start on Thursday.

According to an earlier statement by Brabec, Poland would be obliged to cover the cost of protecting groundwater from pollution and to share all information on the impact of the mine on the Czech environment, with Czech inspectors being given access to the pit.

The Turow open-cast mine provides fuel for a nearby power plant and the two enterprises employ over a thousand people as well as providing electricity to millions of Polish homes.