|This article is part of the Global Coal Mine Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.|
Zloczew coal mine was a proposed surface mine, owned by Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) Polish Energy Group, set to produce 18 million tonnes per annum, near the Belchatow power complex, in Bełchatów in Łódź Voivodeship, Poland.
The mine plan was abandoned as uneconomical in June 2021
The satellite photo below shows the mine site near Bełchatów in Łódź Voivodeship, Poland.
The Zloczew open-cast mine would be Poland’s deepest ever and, for the first time, use explosives to access the lignite beneath the surface. The mine is a project of the state-owned energy company PGE. The coal from the mine is destined for Belchatow power plant.
The reason for the mine's construction is to prolong past 2030 the operation of the Bełchatów coal power plant, the biggest lignite plant in Europe. The exploration works on the Złoczew mine started in June 2010. In 2011, Poland's largest energy company PGE started planning for the mine, based on assumptions that the current two pits feeding the Bełchatów coal power plant will be depleted between 2030 and 2035. The mine will produce 18 million tonnes of lignite a year. PGE estimated that 430 million tonnes of lignite could be extracted from the mine over its full lifespan. In 2011, PGE's plans indicated the company expected to secure the mining concession in 2014, but as of March 2019, this concession is still at least months from being granted.
The Law and Justice party (PiS) of Poland has indicated that it plans to unveil legislation to allow the government to expand coal mine operations. PiS intends for half of Poland’s electricity to be generated by coal from its own mines by 2050. Among the mines PiS plans to develop is the Złoczew mine. This legislation is expected to be reviewed after the national election in October 2019.
According to ClientEarth, Złoczew would be the deepest lignite deposit in Poland. PGE GiEK plans to transform the pit into an artificial water reservoir with a depth of at least 200 m, suggesting the depth of the proposed mining area.
Lawyers from ClientEarth have launched a court fight to block the proposed mine. The mining process would displace seven billion tonnes of rock, putting the surrounding area at major risk of tremors – as well as serious water and air pollution. The Zloczew mine would also result in the displacement and destruction of 33 villages, including highly specialized modern farms, homes, schools, shops, chapels and fire stations. Operations at Zloczew would release five tonnes of mercury, 26 tonnes of cadmium and 168 tonnes of lead – all known neurotoxins and carcinogens – into the environment every year and is predicted to have substantial methane emissions. PGE is trying to start construction of the Zloczew mine via a ‘leapfrogging’ mechanism that skips the vital step of securing a final and binding environmental permit. ClientEarth’s court case challenges the authority’s decision to grant immediate effect to the environmental permit, even though an appeal against the environmental permit is pending and it is not final and binding. This immediate activation of the permit allows the investor to seek further permits and concessions required to excavate and operate the mine.
- Owner: PGE
- Parent Company:
- Location: Bełchatów, Łódź Voivodeship, Poland
- GPS coordinates: 51.3546583,19.2926163 (approximate)
- Mine status: Canceled
- Start year: 2020
- Mineable reserves: 430 million tonnes
- Coal type: Lignite
- Mine size: 14 km2
- Mine type: Surface
- Mine depth: 200 m
- Production: 18 million tonnes per year
- Additional proposed production:
- Equipment: Open cast mining
- Number of employees:
Articles and resources
- PGE Group: Just transition for Bełchatów region becoming a fact, Press Release, June 8, 2021
- ClientEarth lawyers launch court fight to block major new coal mine in Poland, ClientEarth website, March 5, 2019.
- Złoczew lignite open-pit mine, BankTrack, last updated May 13, 2019.
- Poland proposes coal mine expansion while lawsuit challenges largest European coal plant, Jurist, September 27, 2019.