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Limits to lignite mining, Horní Jiřetín, Czech Republic


Description:

In the year 1991 there was an important governmental restriction called spatial and environmental limits to lignite mining. The purpose of the restriction was to set boundaries to the lignite mining in order to enable the transition of the economy of the region and minimize social costs of closing the mines immediately.  At the same time the limits were also meant to protect the settlements close to the mine from being demolished in order to extend the operating mine. The governmental restriction was however contested later on by the mining companies. 

The town of Horní Jiřetín became a stronghold of the resistance to the plans of extension of the mining, because it is located on the edge of the Czechoslovak Army mine and its extension would mean the demolition of the town. In the year 2005 the inhabitants organized a local referendum, where 96% of voters voted for the municipality to protect the town from the demolition or relocation. Ten years after, in 2015, the government discussed a new strategic document, the State Energy Policy. The Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed several scenarios of lignite mining, which counted with the extension of the mining limits. Not only inhabitants of Horní Jiřetín, but also the civic society and national NGO´s mobilized against the proposal through public happenings but also by collecting signatures under "Promise of civil disobedience in case of breaching the limits." About 3,000 signatures were delivered to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Environment before the government meeting. 

The government however decided to partially breach through the mining limits in one of the three operating mines in the area -  Bílina, where it did not require removal of settlements. The mobilization for keeping the limits also gave rise to the grassroot movement Limity jsme my - We are the limits. This movement argued against coal mining from  a climate justice perspective, and networked with international climate justice movement. In June 2017 it organized the first Czech international climate camp in Horní Jiřetín. During the climate camp participants entered the coal mine Bílina and thus blocked the operations for a day.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Limits to lignite mining, Horní Jiřetín, Czech Republic
Country:Czech Republic
State or province:The Ústí region
Location of conflict:Horní Jiřetín
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Coal
Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

In the mine of Czechoslovak Army (operated by Severní energetická) was extracted 3,6 milion tonnes of lignite in the year 2015.

In the mine Bílina (operated by Severočeské doly) was extracted 9,4 million tonnes in the year 2015.

Expected reserves of lignite protected by the limits are 750 milion tonnes.

The overall lignite produstion of Czech Republic in the 2014 was 38,2 million tonnes.

Type of populationSemi-urban
Company names or state enterprises:Severní energetická from Czech Republic - Severní energetická is operating the open cast mine of Czechoslovak Army, which is located close to the town of Horní Jiřetín. If the mine would be extended it would mean demolition of the town.
Severočeské doly from Czech Republic - The company is operating the mine Bílina, which is supposed to be extended.
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Industry and Trade (https://www.mpo.cz/en/)
Ministry of Environment (http://www.env.cz/)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Limity jsme my - https://limityjsmemy.cz/
Greenpeace - http://www.greenpeace.org/czech/cz/
Kořeny - http://www.koreny.cz/

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession

Outcome

Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:Keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Despite at this moment inhabitants of Horní Jiřetín are not going to be displaced, the mining still continues and the fairer alternatives are not discussed

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Frantál, B. (2016). Living on coal: Mined-out identity, community displacement and forming of anti-coal resistance in the Most region, Czech Republic. Resources Policy, 49, 385-393.

Říha, M., Stoklasa, J., Lafarová, M., Dejmal, I., Marek, J., Pakosta, P., & Beránek, K. (2005). Environmental Mining Limits in North Bohemian Lignite Region. Praha, Společnost pro krajinu.

Máca, V., & Melichar, J. (2016). The health costs of revised coal mining limits in Northern Bohemia. Energies, 9(2), 81.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Limity jsme my! (We are the limits!) The first International Climate Camp in Czech Republic, Horní Jiřetín - entitle blogpost
https://entitleblog.org/2017/07/20/limity-jsme-my-we-are-the-limits-the-first-international-climate-camp-in-czech-republic-horni-jiretin/

Facebook Page of the Limity jsme my movement
https://www.facebook.com/limityjsmemy/

Limity jsme my page
https://limityjsmemy.cz/

Other documents

Climate camp at Horní Jiřetín Protesters with the mines surrounding Horní Jiřetín in the background (author unknown)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/hj.jpg

The protesters’ human chain The protesters’ human chain as the human limits to mining (source: Facebook page)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/CzechRep_Horní_Jiřetín_humanchain.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Mikuláš Černík, Limity jsme my, Masaryk university, [email protected]
Last update29/10/2017

Images

 

Climate camp at Horní Jiřetín

Protesters with the mines surrounding Horní Jiřetín in the background (author unknown)

The protesters’ human chain

The protesters’ human chain as the human limits to mining (source: Facebook page)