Restoring coal mining would cost billions

The resumption of hard coal mining at the CSA and Darkov mines in the Karviná region is possible. It results from the study of the state enterprise Diamo. However, the report also says that the preparation would be financially and time-consuming, and the price of a tonne of coal would have to be above CZK 7,700 to make mining worthwhile.

Coal mining at the shafts ended last year, and Diamo will take care of both mines from March 2021. “The preparation would cost about CZK 10 billion and take six years. It would take 14 years to mine the mines, another billion crowns, and over two thousand qualified workers,” Jana Dronská, spokeswoman for Diamo, said of the study’s main conclusions.

According to Ludvík Kašpar, the director of the state enterprise, their report describes under what conditions and in what timeframe it would be possible to resume mining at both mines and what it would entail from a technical, technological, personnel, economic, and legislative perspective.

“We have created an expert material that gives answers to the basic questions and concerns that we are currently facing in the liquidation of the mines in the context of the need for coal,” he pointed out, adding that they decided to prepare the analysis of the possible resumption of mining at the suppressed mines because of the current developments in the energy sector, around fuels and raw materials.

Kašpar pointed out that the analysis did not focus on other mines that had ceased production earlier and whose liquidation was at an advanced stage. “According to the available data, there are 14 million metric tons of recoverable coal reserves at the CSA and Darkov mines, and these are higher quality coking coal.

The recoverable reserves are located in five mining areas and 55 tunnels. The timetable covers 20 years, with the first six years being the preparation period and the rest being the mining and extraction period,” the director said.

Kašpar recalled that the preparation for mining would mainly involve an environmental impact assessment, the so-called EIA, which is estimated to take up to two years. “Only the follow-up procedure with the mining authority can be initiated to obtain a mining permit to start mining operations and mining in the tunnels.”

According to the Diama study, preparing both shafts for mining would be challenging, partly because parts of both mine workings are already closed by dams and are naturally flooded with mine water. Also, the underground equipment is nearing the end of its useful life. And a shortage of skilled labor could also be a problem.

“In years of intensive mining of over a million metric tons a year, up to 2,700 workers would be needed. It is impossible to train new people in specific professions without prior experience,” said Dronská.

It is not clear whether mining would be profitable for OKD. Naďa Chattová, a spokeswoman for the mining company, said that the company did not have the study and did not participate in it. She said only that coking coal prices on world markets are currently around USD 300 (roughly CZK 7,300) per tonne from Australian ports.