Bílina Mine prepares for expansion of coalmining area in northern Bohemia

Bílina Mine, photo: cool3d, CC BY 3.0

Following the unique lifting of limits on brown coal mining by the government in Bílina, North Bohemia, the Bílina Mine has formally set the ball rolling to be allowed to mine more than 150 million tons of coal still in the ground. Once approved, heavy machinery will move within half a kilometre of nearby villages. Before miners can remove a single lump of coal, however, further steps will have to be taken.

Bílina Mine,  photo: cool3d,  CC BY 3.0
The promise of more than 150 million tons of coal in the ground in North Bohemia at the site of the Bílina mined owned by Severočeské doly is one which was too good to pass up. Supporters await it will be a boost for the local economy, despite warnings from some in the medical community. Steps are proceeding to see the mine’s reach broadened and new digging to begin: before that, several hurdles remain. For one, archaeologists will have to complete their research at a local medieval cemetery. An unexpectedly important find could, in theory, put the entire mining expansion at risk. Before expanded mining can take place, at the very least, the site will have to be transferred elsewhere.

The transfer of local fauna, Czech TV reported, has already begun: animals which would be threatened by mining are already being transferred to safer ground include threatened crawdads and freshwater clams. Dozens of nesting boxes have also been put up, to draw local birds away from areas to be mined Lukáš Kopecký, the spokesman for Severočeské doly, confirmed.

“They are there so that birds will have enough time to relocate when the mining begins.”

Meanwhile, some 200,000 saplings have been planted along a six-kilometre-long stretch to create a future natural barrier between areas being mined and the closest nearby houses. One of the main local roads will cease to exist and an alternative built. Severočeské doly’s Lukáš Kopecký again.

“Beyond the hill, we will build a brand-new road as a replacement.”

The limits on brown coal mining in northern Bohemia were established in 1991 as a guarantee for municipalities situated on coal deposits that they would not be pulled down to make way for further excavation work. But the government’s long-term energy strategy failed to ease the country’s dependence on brown coal and the government gradually floated the idea that the limits might be struck down. The limit, however were only lifted for the Bílina pit and expansion, upon which no homes or villages lie; miners are asking, for now, to be able to excavate coal in the expanded area until 2035, but could extend that still further, until 2050.