WARSAW, July 27 (Reuters) - Poland's biggest coal producer,
state-run PGG, plans to restructure mines and temporarily cut
miners' salaries as part of a rescue plan designed to help the
company survive the coronavirus crisis, the state assets
ministry said on Monday.
PGG has been hit by falling demand for coal, lower prices,
and by the rising number of coronavirus infections, which led to
the temporary closure of some mines in June.
Also, Poland can no longer ignore the European Union's drive
to cut carbon emissions, which has made coal-based power
The restructuring plan will be presented to trade unions on
Tuesday. The ministry has not provided details of the plan.
On Sunday industry sources told Reuters that the government
would announce deep cuts in coal output and the closure of a
number of mines.
One source said PGG's annual output would be reduced by much
more than 10% but not by as much as by half.
Poland generates almost 80% of its electricity from coal and
is the only member of the EU that has not pledged to become
carbon neutral by 2050.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party took power in 2015
partly on promises to sustain coal. Since then it has gradually
closed a number of mines and has withdrawn from new coal
Government officials have however said repeatedly that coal
will long remain an important energy source for Poland, fearing
that miners' protests may undermine electoral support.
The restructuring plan comes shortly after incumbent
president Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, won a presidential vote that
was important for the party to continue its reforms. The next
national parliamentary elections are not due until 2023.
"Today we do not hide from the employees and the trade
unions that the situation is critical," PGG Chief Executive
Tomasz Rogala was quoted as saying in the ministry's statement.
PGG is owned by other state-run companies, including listed
power producers PGE, Energa and Enea
, and gas firm PGNiG.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko
Editing by Susan Fenton and David Holmes)