– At a session held on 13 January 2022, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the National Strategy for Coal Phase-out and Restructuring of Coal Regions in accordance with the Just Transition Principles. The strategy stipulates that Slovenia will stop using coal for electricity production in 2033 at the latest. The adoption of the strategy is the basis for the adoption of an Act on the gradual closure of the Velenje Coal Mine, as part of which the state will provide additional resources and funds for the closure of the Velenje Coal Mine and rehabilitation of degraded areas, and which will lead to controlled gradual closure and financially sustainable operation of the coal mine operator.
Two key milestones are the most important for the Velenje Coal Mine: the period before the year of the cessation of extraction of coal and the period after it. Until the target year, production at the Velenje Coal Mine will be carried out in accordance with plans, which will particularly require employees to be engaged in the production process, and the companies in the group will, of course, need people for another fifteen years after the cessation of extraction of coal to implement all work related to the closure. Thus, the proposed year 2033 means at least another twenty years of mining.
As the national strategy for coal phase-out was being adopted and the year of phase-out confirmed, the Velenje Coal Mine started presenting and coordinating the key activities that should be addressed and included in an Act on the gradual closure, which will be the basis for obtaining funding for the needs of the current and final closure work, and began ensuring the provision of appropriate staff. In addition to the mentioned act, an act on the restructuring of the Savinja-Šalek region will also be drafted to enable the drawing of funds for restructuring, investments and new projects to provide new jobs, and to enable the establishment of the Just Transition Fund, which is of key importance for the Savinja-Šalek region, as this will enable us to promote a circular economy, introduce new technologies and keep the energy production location in the Šalek Valley.
An Act on the gradual closure of the Velenje Coal Mine should be adopted as soon as possible so that the operator Premogovnik Velenje is provided with the required funds for all measures related to the gradual closure (closure of the pit, rehabilitation of the surface, staff issues).
Premogovnik Velenje currently carries out all closure work on its own and with its own funds, from the closure of individual pit facilities to the rehabilitation of the environment that has been subjected to the impact of mining, as part of its own production, which of course affects the prices of coal.
At this time, Premogovnik Velenje is already drafting its operating strategy in accordance with the procedure of restructuring of the parent company and affiliated companies in the group. A set of projects has been prepared to preserve jobs in the Šalek Valley, where there is a considerable amount of technological and expert knowledge representing great potential for new projects and new challenges.
The year 2033 has a very clear goal in mind, and there are many challenges associated with it. New opportunities and new dimensions are opening up, and new jobs and projects funded by the European Union are being anticipated. We will build our future on the advantages that the Premogovnik Velenje Group has at its disposal. The Šalek Valley is an important energy production location, and the local population is used to living in harmony with energy, while we have all the necessary consents for this type of activity. It will no longer be possible to acquire such locations in the near and distant future, so it is necessary to take advantage of the possibilities and opportunities it offers.