Polish miners call off Russian coal blockade after Warsaw pledges industry support

Polish miners call off Russian coal blockade after Warsaw pledges industry support
Coalminers blocking “cheap” Russian coal at the Poland-Russia border have reportedly reached a deal with the government in Warsaw to consider new coal trade laws that will better protect the country’s coal industry.

Coal deliveries from Russia have now resumed, according to a representative at the railway station in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, which borders Poland and the Baltic Sea but not mainland Russia.

“At 6:15am Moscow time, the train departed the Russian station Mamonowo and after sometime crossed the Russian-Polish border,”a representative said, RIA Novosti reported. According to the representative, another train will cross the border at 5pm Thursday local time.

“The decision to finish the protests at Braniewo is because we received a positive message from the prime minister, Eva Kopacz, and cabinet ministers,” ITAR-TASS reported Dominik Kolorz, leader of the Solidarity Union in the Slasko-Dabrowskie region, as saying.

On Wednesday, Polish PM Ewa Kopacz asked parliament to speed up the introduction of new coal trade laws, and announced she was commissioning a report on the country’s coal mining industry, Polish Radio reported. The policy shift came after over 200 Polish miners blocked the delivery of Russian coal at a railway crossing at the Branevo-Mamonowo border post.

A planned October 1 protest by the Solidarity miners’ union in Warsaw will go ahead as planned, said Kolorz, the union’s leader.

The miners, who hail from the southwest Silesia region of Poland, sent PM Kopacz a petition that said imports from Russia were “unfair” are “ruining” the Polish mining industry and taking local jobs.

The protest is being led by mining union leaders, who want an embargo on the import of Russian coal to protect local miners and companies that are losing hundreds of millions of euros (billions of Polish Zloty) due to expensive labor costs and a decrease in prices and demand.

Poland is a major producer of coal, but still imports about 10 million tons per year from Russia and the Czech Republic. The country also exports 10.6 million tons of coal annually.

Coal industry in Poland provides over 55 percent of the country’s primary energy demand, with about 90 percent of electricity sourced from coal in 2013.