Turów coal mine

From Global Energy Monitor

The Turów coal mine, or KWB Turów, is a surface mine, operated by state-owned utility Polska Grupa Energetyczna (Polish Energy Group), currently producing 6.5 million-tonnes-per-annum for the Turów power station in Bogatynia, Poland.

In 2019, a proposal to expand the mine and operate until 2044 has provoked considerable international controversy in Germany and Czech Republic.[1]

Location

The satellite photo below shows the exact location of the mine in Bogatynia, Poland.

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Background

The coal mine and power station are owned by Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE SA or PGE Group).[2] According to the company, the mine has a peak capacity of 20 million tonnes per annum.[3]

In 2012 PGE Group said it was considering building lignite mines and power plants in the Lubuskie region, Western Poland, in a long term perspective, as the deposits of its current mine in Turów will likely be depleted within 30 years. PGE holds permits to explore lignite deposits in the region.[4]

With the license for the mine set to expire in April 2020, the company began to apply for life-of-the-mine extensions and surface area expansions. The expansion plans would extend the mine to just 70 meters (230 feet) from the border with neighboring Czech Republic. In November 2019, the Czech Environment Ministry objected to the Polish project based on its environmental impact and water supplies. Local communities and activists in Zittau, a German town across the border, also objected to the expansion.[1]

In March 2020, Polish authorities granted PGE a 6-year extension for the life of the mine and the company continues to expand the open pit. Operators intend to mine deeper, 30 feet below the Baltic Sea level.[3] Several environmental and community groups, including EKO-UNIA Ecological Association, "TAK TAK - Open Pit Discovery" Foundation, and Greenpeace have formed a "Stop Turów" campaign.[5]

In May 2020, the Czech parliament’s European Affairs and Environment committees called on the government to prepare a legal analysis for a possible lawsuit against Poland after it extended the Turów mine licence. The Czech environmental law group Frank Bold, which is advising Czech regional authorities in the Turów case, maintains that the extension does not comply with Polish and EU law.[6]

Two related studies published in June 2020 by Greenpeace Berlin raised strong concerns about the transboundary impacts of the Turów mine on nearby rivers in Germany. One study concludes that depletion of the German part of the Zittau basin is under way, as well as the permanent contamination by heavy metals of waterways such as the Neisse and Oder and numerous other impacts.[7] Green member of the European parliament for Saxony, Anna Cavazzini, commented: "The effects of Turów must urgently be seen as a national and cross-border problem for [Poland, Czech Republic and Germany]. I am therefore participating in the ongoing consultations of the International Commission for the Protection of the Oder against pollution and I call for further investigations into the water problems."[8]

In September 2020, the Czech ministries of the environment and foreign affairs filed a complaint with the European Commission over Poland’s alleged failure to meet its legal obligations regarding information sharing for the proposed expansion of the Turów mine near the shared border. The Commission has three months to react to the complaint before the Czech government can take Poland to court in January 2021.[9]

In May 2021, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Union's top court, ruled that mining at the Turów lignite mine must cease while the court processes the Czech government's lawsuit against Poland for illegally operating the mine. The decision by the ECJ is a temporary measure pending the court's final judgement on Prague's complaint.[10] Commenting on the ECJ ruling, Petra Urbanova, a lawyer at Frank Bold, said: "The licence for Turów was prolonged illegally, and has emboldened PGE to such an extent that it thinks it can ram through a second licence extension for Turów to 2044 without even stopping to answer for its previous transgressions. This ruling shows that the European Court of Justice has no intention of playing along with PGE's games. The court has rightly acted to prevent a further escalation of the crisis while the Czech Republic's case is heard. We expect the court to take the same firm approach when it delivers its final ruling."[11] A few days after the ECJ ruling, and after largely ignoring the Czech complaints for more than six months, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter that Warsaw would negotiate Turów's future with the Czechs.[12]

Mine Details

  • Sponsor: PGE
  • Parent company:
  • Location: Bogatynia, Gmina Bogatynia, Zgorzelec county, Dolnośląskie, Poland
  • Coordinates: 50.928753, 14.926341(exact)
  • Status: operating
  • Capacity: 6.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA)
  • Mineable reserves: 302 MT
  • Mine size: 2487 ha
  • Year: 1904
  • Coal Type: Lignite
  • Source of financing: NIB Bank

Mine Expansion

  • Status: proposed
  • Capacity: 11.5 MTPA
  • Mine size: 3000 ha (30 sq. kilometers or 11.7 sq. miles)[3]
  • Mine depth: 330m [3]
  • Year: 2020-2044

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Karel Janicek,Massive Polish Coal Mine Sparks International Dispute, Associated Press, December 6, 2019.
  2. Coal-Fired Plants Financed by International Public Investment Institutions Since 1994, Appendix to 'Foreclosing the Future: Coal, Climate and International Public Finance: Investment in coal-fired power plants hinders the fight against global warming', Environmental Defense, April 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 KWB Turow, Projects, Turow Coal Mine Expansion, NS Energy, accessed May 6, 2020.
  4. PGE likely to turn to lignite business, The Warsaw Voice, Feb. 6, 2012.
  5. Stop Turow Campaign, accessed May 12, 2020
  6. PRAGUE – Illegal coal mining lawsuit against Poland, EurActiv May 4, 2020
  7. "Lignite endangers water in the Lusatian Neisse region,", Greenpeace Berlin (in German), Jun. 18, 2020
  8. "Lignite opencast mine Turów is digging the water off Saxony: Cross-border coal exit region now!", Press release (in German) from Green Party in Saxony, Jun. 19, 2020
  9. "Czechs appeal to EU commission over Poland's illegal mining,", EU Observer, Sep. 30, 2020
  10. "EU court tells Poland to halt lignite mine on Czech border", Associated Press, May 21, 2021
  11. "European Court of Justice orders halt to operations at controversial Polish mine", Europe Beyond Coal press release, May 21, 2021
  12. Tweet from the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, May 24, 2021

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External resources

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