Spain working on new coal plan to keep mines open after 2018
Madrid (Platts)--29Jan2013/539 am EST/1039 GMT
The Spanish government is drafting a plan that will allow the country's
coal mines to remain in operation from 2019, in opposition to a plan
submitted to the European Union in August 2011, the industry ministry said
"The government is working so that, in contrary to the stipulation of
the 2013-2018 plan, which said that companies receiving state aid would close
in 2019, the mining operations that have received aid and remain competitive
can remain in operation beyond that date," the ministry said in a statement.
Under EU law, all coal-mining operations that receive state aid must be
closed by the end of 2018. The ministry said it has been in contact with
businesses and unions to work on a solution.
"The objective is to have a [mining] sector that is sustainable and
competitive. The government is working to guarantee that competitive
companies can continue to operate indefinitely and create the conditions to
ensure a market for nationally produced coal," the ministry said.
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Government spokesman Ovidio Sanchez said last week that it will seek to
negotiate with the EU to modify the closure plan so that companies receiving
aid would be allowed to operate beyond 2018 without aid and without needing
to close down.
The ministry also rebuked Monday recent news reports that suggested it
already had a closure plan in place for 2015. This is the date that the
existing state aid programs expire and also the date when incentives for
burning domestically produced coal end.
According to a report by national news agency EFE, citing Asturian
politician Graciano Torre, the government will eliminate the incentives for
power plants to burn domestic coal at the end of next year and will not
extend the timeframe further.
The political inertia has meant that mining companies have not received
state-aid subsidies owed from last year, totaling about Eur111 million. On
top of that, the companies have also been unable to receive income from
selling coal for power generation since a new resolution setting out
quantities and prices for 2013 has not been published, he added.
The ministry is scheduled to meet the main unions on February 5 in a bid
to resolve the matter, according to Spanish press.
--Gianluca Baratti, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by James Leech, email@example.com