The Turów mine will be able to continue operating within the reduced boundaries of the mining area.
The granting of a six-year license by the Minister of Climate means the continued exploitation of the lignite deposit by the mine, which has been conducted on an industrial scale in this area since 1904.
Coal mining is and will be carried out only in the "Turoszów-Bogatynia" mining area, which was designated in the 1994 license. In practice, this means that the Turów Mine will not expand its mining area beyond the boundaries set 25 years ago. Moreover, the area of actual mining activities will be by more than half smaller than the mining area specified in the 1994 concession.
The Turów deposit development project, adopted by the Minister of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry in 1993, defined the permit for the exploitation of the Turów deposit until its resources were exhausted, i.e. until 2044.
“The extension of the mining permit at the Turów Mine is good news for nearly 15,000 employees, both those employed in the Turoszów complex and in all companies cooperating with the mine and the power plant. This is also good news for millions of Polish families receiving electricity produced at the nearby Turów Power Plant. The continuation of mining in practice means increased energy security, which in the current situation acquires additional value. Today, our country needs constant and uninterrupted energy supplies, and the Turoszów energy complex provides such supplies”, says Robert Ostrowski, president of the board of PGE Górnictwo i Energetyka Konwencjonalna.
As part of the concession process, a detailed environmental report has been developed, which contains analyzes of the expected impact and, above all, determining the necessary measures to minimize the potential impact of the mining activities. Responses to several thousand comments and motions were submitted, and participants in the proceedings, as well as persons interested in it, obtained the necessary information on all matters raising doubts.
“For proceedings related to the extension of the concession until 2044, it is necessary to have the so-called decisions on the environmental conditions of the project. The application for issuing this decision was submitted by PGE GiEK in 2015, and the environmental impact assessment procedure for continuing the exploitation of the Turów deposit lasted over 5 years. This decision was issued on January 21, 2020 by the Regional Director for Environmental Protection in Wrocław, following an environmental impact assessment procedure. It imposes specific obligations on the Turów Mine, including the implementation of investments that minimize its environmental impact”, emphasizes Zbigniew Kasztelewicz, vice president of the management board for mining at PGE GiEK.
In accordance with the requirements of national and EU law, representatives of administrative bodies, the public, as well as neighboring countries, i.e. the Czech Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, participated in the environmental impact assessment procedure. As part of this procedure, objections were raised.
“Public consultations, including consultations with Czech and German society, as part of cross-border proceedings, were conducted with full transparency and taking into account the maximum waiting time for positions of neighboring countries”, adds Zbigniew Kasztelewicz.
Guided by the principle of good practice, PGE GiEK organized additional meetings, not covered by law, with Czech residents in autumn 2019 in Chotyne and Uhelna, during which they discussed the measures that would be taken to eliminate the potential impact of the Turoszów opencast on the border areas. Moreover, in addition to the standard procedure required by law, in the first half of 2019 meetings were also held with the inhabitants of Opolno-Zdrój.
Turow mine’s impact on water resources at the Czech border also was a subject of the procedure of environmental impact assessment and cross-border arrangements. The groundwater level has been monitored for many years by Polish-Czech and Polish-German teams of specialists. The measurement network includes 550 sites for measuring the groundwater table, of which over 150 belongs to the Polish-Czech and Polish-German measuring network. Expert research results confirm that the mine does not cause dehydration in drinking water intakes. In order to protect the only drinking water intake in Uhelna that could be affected by the Turów Mine, actions were taken to develop and implement an underground screen that will be built at a depth of about 60-110 m and that will protect the potential flow of water from the Uhelna area towards the open pit.
The Turów Mine is the only fuel supplier to the nearby Turów Power Plant, which is currently able to produce electricity for approx. 2.3 million households. The Turoszów power plant meets all applicable emission standards and is prepared for the entry into force of the stricter emission requirements imposed by the European Union.
Currently, 6 power units are operated at Turów Power Plant, commissioned in the years 1998–2005. From the point of view of unit operation time, Turów Power Plant is one of the newest system power plants in Poland. Since 2014, an adaptation program to constantly tightening emission standards has been implemented at the power plant. For this purpose is conducted, among others, thorough modernization of units 1-3. The value of the project is about 800 million zł. Completion of this task will contribute to extending the life of generating units by a minimum of 20 years, increasing their capacity from 235 MW to 250 MW, as well as improving their efficiency and availability. The main technological islands of the blocks, i.e. boilers, turbines, generators, electrostatic precipitators and control systems will be modernized during the works. The implementation of the project also has its environmental dimension - it will result in a significant reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and dust. The emissions of nitrogen oxides are reduced from 190 to 175 mg / Nm3; the sulfur dioxide emission level is limited to 180 mg / Nm3 (from 400 mg / Nm3), and the dust emission level after modernization will reach 10mg / Nm3 (so far this value was 50mg / Nm3).
At present, the Turów Power Plant is in the final phase of construction of a modern power unit with a capacity of approx. 500 MW. The use of the latest technological solutions in the newly built power unit No. 7 is to guarantee high efficiency of electricity production and allow for full and effective use of lignite resources in the Turów Brown Coal Mine deposit, while maintaining all ecological standards. The new unit will meet strict environmental standards. Its SO2 emissions will be reduced by almost 20 times compared to the retired power units Nos. 8, 9 and 10, and dust emissions by approximately 10 times. Due to the requirements of the climate policy, the unit will be prepared for the construction of a carbon dioxide capture installation from flue gases. The power unit under construction will replace the older generation units that have been decommissioned and will allow for rebuilding the capacity of Turów Power Plant to approx. 2000 MW. The electricity produced in it is enough to meet the needs of about 1 million households.