Coal mining in Karviná could be extended until 2025

OKD mine in Karviná

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, associated EU sanctions and the push for energy independence have led Czech officials to explore new sources of coal that could supply the country’s three coal-powered heating plants. One option is the extension of mining activity in Karviná, the coal-rich district in the country’s north-east.

Last week’s decision by EU leaders to extend sanctions on Russia by ending the country’s coal imports to Europe will deprive Vladimir Putin’s regime of EUR 4 billion annually. However, it also means that several EU member states will need to look for new coal suppliers.

Deputy Industry and Trade Minister René Neděla explained on Czech Radio what this means for the Czech Republic.

“We import roughly a million tons of black coal through Poland. This black coal mainly comes from Russia. It supplies three heating plants that are primarily located around Ostrava and the wider Moravian-Silesian Region.

“The Czech Republic has been supporting the [EU] sanctions. However, we have also been pointing to the importance of maintaining solidarity between the member states. That means asking Poland, which does have black coal reserves, to send some of them to the Czech Republic.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Finance Minister Roman Binder, announced on Monday that the government has asked the country’s only hard coal mining company OKD to start working on a report that would analyse the possibility of extending coal mining in the Czech Republic’s north-eastern district of Karviná until 2025. The request, he said, is connected to ensuring the country’s energy security.

The chairman of the board at OKD, Roman Sikora, welcomed the request as something that could benefit the area around Karviná and said that the report should be ready by the end of June.

He stressed however that it will also be necessary to look into the question of whether the current high demand for coal will remain the same in several years’ time. Over the past years, OKD has been gradually phasing out coal production due to diminishing returns.

According to OKD spokeswoman Naďa Chattová, it will be necessary to begin preparations by July 2022 at the latest if a further extension to mining activities in Karviná is approved.

For now, the board of OKD has voted to extend mining in Karviná until the second quarter of 2023.

The company plans to mine a total of 1.3 million tons of coal this year, with a further 450,000 tons in the first half of 2023.