Reuters has reported that Poland will close two coal mines owned by state-run JSW and 10 mines from PGG group on 9 June 2020 for three weeks to stop the spread of the coronavirus among miners, Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin said.
Poland has reported rapid growth in the number of coronavirus cases among miners, with the coal region in the south of the country recording the highest number of infections.
Currently, coal miners account for almost 20% of all coronavirus cases in Poland, the state-run news agency PAP said.
“Such action is needed to eventually quell these epidemic outbreaks,” Sasin told a news conference.
He added that the miners would receive 100% pay for approximately three weeks and that there was no threat to coal deliveries.
Shares in JSW, which is EU’s biggest coking coal producer, slumped by 10% on the news. It said in a statement on Monday that it has reported a total of 2771 coronavirus cases, mostly at the Pniowek and Zofiowka mines.
It was unclear which coal mines were set to close. JSW and PGG employ approximately 20 000 and 40 000 people respectively.
The coronavirus pandemic has added to the financial difficulties facing Polish coal mines, which were already struggling with falling demand, low prices and rising stockpiles before the outbreak.
The government has said it will announce a restructuring plan for the industry in the coming weeks.
According to Reuters, Poland is considering closing at least three coal mines permanently in the coming months, as the pandemic forces it to accelerate its exit from the sector.
PGG can afford to pay out salaries until July, its Chief Executive said.