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Energy providers snub Polish coal

Polish coal mines are struggling to sell their coal as domestic energy providers turn to cheaper foreign imports. In Q1 this year, imports of coal were three times higher than in Q1 2008. Every month Poland buys 1.43 million tonnes of foreign coal; a year earlier the figure was not even half a million tonnes per month.
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Power plants and steel mills are finding cheaper coal in Russia, the Czech Republic and even the US. Experts believe that if the trend continues, up to 20 million tonnes of coal will enter Poland by the end of 2009 - more than twice the 2008 total.

According to Dziennik, Polish coal mines are responsible for the accelerated increase in imports, as in the past year, many have been unable to meet Poland's energy demands. This year power plants are safeguarding themselves against a fuel shortage and are importing from other countries.

"The main reason for such large imports are prices," Jerzy Gembal, an analyst from Węglokoks, which specializes in fuel trading, told the daily. "Foreign coal is cheap and easily available."

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Gembal also said that prices in the ports of Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Antwerp (ARA) are lower than prices for coal in Silesia. A tonne of coal from a heap in Poland costs zł.230, which is more than the global average price of around zł.200. Coal from Ukraine, for example, is a further 20 percent cheaper than that.

Coal sales have stagnated during the economic slowdown. In Q1 of this year some two million tonnes of Polish coal have been waiting for a recipient, and the Ministry of the Economy believes that the situation may worsen. According to the department, the sales of coal to power plants may drop this year by up to 17.9 percent.

"We've never experienced such a halt [in sales]," Zbigniew Madej, a spokesperson for Kompania Węglowa, told Dziennik. "It will surely be reflected in our results."

Robert Szmigielski

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