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Poland prolongs Turow mine life despite international outcry

WARSAW, April 29 (Reuters) - Poland’s climate ministry has extended a mining concession for the open-pit coal mine in Turow until 2044, outraging environmental campaigners, who said the move would worsen the climate crisis.

The decision comes as the Court of Justice of the European Union is poised to decide in early May whether the mine, located near the Czech and German borders, must close immediately, following a lawsuit filed by the Czech Republic in February.

The Czech Republic said Warsaw had violated the bloc’s law with an earlier extension of mining at Turow until 2026. Meanwhile, Czech residents close to the mine say it has contaminated drinking water and they have suffered from noise, dust and subsidence.

“Extending the concession means a further deepening of the climate crisis,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

“Poland’s actions show a total disregard for EU law,” Zala Primc, campaigner at Europe Beyond Coal, said.

The climate ministry said its decision was in the public interest as Turow supplies lignite, or brown coal, to a nearby electricity plant, which provides around 5% of Poland’s power, the owner, state-run energy group PGE, says.

PGE has said a sudden closure of Turow, which together with the power plant is a major employer, could lead to economic collapse in the province and shake “the stability of Poland’s power system”.

The company, which plans a new 496 MW unit at the Turow power station, said has begun work to reduce dust and noise.

EU countries have agreed to cut their combined net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Poland, which generates around 70% of its electricity from coal, was the only EU country that did not commit to the goal when the bloc set it in 2019. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Additional reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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