Polish mine workers protest against coal imports from Russia

23 September 2014 (Last Updated September 23rd, 2014 18:30)

Around 200 mine workers in Poland are protesting against importing coal from Russia by blocking the trains carrying coal at a border passage in northern Poland.

Around 200 mine workers in Poland are protesting against importing coal from Russia by blocking the trains carrying coal at a border passage in northern Poland.

According to mining union leaders, the cheaper coal is being imported from Russia at a time when local mines in the country are struggling with high production and labour costs and falling coal prices, reported Reuters.

Polish mining firms including the Kompania Weglowa are suffering huge losses due to a slump in the demand for coal.

Mining union Solidarity leader Jaroslaw Grzesik was quoted by the news agency as saying: "Right now, around 80% of tenders for coal supplies to units run from the state budget are won by suppliers of imported coal because they offer dumping prices."

"Around 80% of tenders for coal supplies to units run from the state budget are won by suppliers of imported coal because they offer dumping prices."

According to Solidarity union head Dominik Kolorz, the mine workers may block the Braniewo-Mamonowo passage until their demands are fulfilled by the government.

Poland uses the majority of the coal produced to generate electricity. In 2013, the country produced 76.5 million tonnes (Mt) of coal, exported 10.6Mt and imported 10.8Mt of coal from Russia and Czech Republic, which is considered to be cheaper than the nationally produced coal.

In another development, around 50 Greenpeace activists blocked a train carrying 1,500t of coal to Cottam Power Station in the UK yesterday, in a protest against the dangers to the climate and humans by burning coal.

Greenpeace campaigner Will McCallum told RTCC that: "We're doing exactly what leaders in New York and here in the UK should be doing, which is to stand in the way of the massive damage to our health and climate inflicted by coal.

"The UK's addiction to coal is giving us climate damage, air pollution and a dangerous reliance on the Russian oligarchs who supply 51% of the UK's coal imports.

"It's time our political leaders made good on their pledges by opposing new subsidies, stopping unnecessary coal burning and setting out a clear plan to retire our outdated coal plants within the next ten years."