Poles wait in line to buy coal to warm themselves in the winter. Worse than during communism

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By Constantin Radut
The Polish government, in the fight with Moscow, took the decision a few months ago to stop importing coal from the Russian Federation. Immediately the prices exploded, and the government promised a subsidy of 3,000 zlotys (approximately 600 euros/year) for small farms and towns that heat with coal.
For several weeks, Polish coal mining companies have been selling to local traders only minimal amounts of coal due to the weakening of the offer for electricity production.
The report presented on the VOA website is downright horrifying.
VOA says that, now in the middle of summer, dozens of cars, tractors and trucks line up at the Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka coal mine.
Artur, 57, a pensioner, came from Swidnik, about 30 kilometers from the mine in eastern Poland, hoping to buy a few tonnes of coal for himself and his family.
He had to wait for days.
“This is beyond imagination; people are sleeping in their cars. I remember the communist days, but it never occurred to me that we could go back to something even worse.”
Artur’s household is one of 3.8 million in Poland that rely on coal for heating and are now facing shortages and price increases after Poland and the European Union imposed an embargo on Russian coal.
While Poland produces over 50 million tonnes from its own mines each year, imported coal, mostly from Russia, was a household staple due to competitive prices and the fact that Russian coal was sold in pieces more suitable for home use.
Rising demand has forced Bogdanka and other state-controlled mines to ration sales or offer the fuel to individual buyers through online platforms in limited quantities. Artur, who did not want to give his full name, said he collected documents from his extended family in the hope of collecting all his fuel allowances at once.
Like all Polish coal mines, Bogdanka usually sells most of the coal it produces to power plants. Last year, it sold less than 1 percent of production to individual customers, so it lacks the logistics to sell fuel directly to retail buyers.
In recent years, Poland has been the most vocal critic of EU climate policy and a staunch defender of coal, which generates up to 80 percent of its electricity. But coal production has steadily declined as the cost of mining at deeper levels rises.
Coal consumption remained largely constant, leading to a gradual increase in imports. In 2021, Poland imported 12 million tons of coal, of which 8 million tons came from Russia and were used by households and small thermal power plants.

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