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Apr 28, 2022
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Johnson will distribute picks and axes to the British

Johnson will distribute picks and axes to the British

Photo: PA Wire / PA Images / TASS

For the first time in 30 years, the UK is going to organize coal mining at a new mine, and this will be done in order to reduce dependence on Russian energy supplies. Fuel is going to be extracted at a mine in Whitehaven in Cumbria in the north-west of the country, there are reserves of coking coal, The Telegraph writes, citing sources in the Conservative Party, which is currently in power in the Kingdom. The publication notes that the country currently imports about 40% of this type of coal from Russia.

It should be recalled that the permit for the construction of a mine complex in Whitehaven was already issued by the municipal authorities back in October 2020, however, after violent protests from environmental activists and opposition forces, the British Cabinet decided to once again check the feasibility of this undertaking. Premier Boris Johnson in November 2021, in his speech at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), he announced that Britain would not be building new mines. However, the fighting in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia gave him reason to change his mind.

An active lobbyist for the organization of coal mining at the mine in Whitehaven, according to the sources of the newspaper, is the British Minister for Housing, Regional Development and Local Government Michael Gove. It was he who managed to convince a number of members of the government that in the conditions of the sanctions imposed against Russia, the operation of this deposit will allow establishing a stable supply of coal to steel mills in the UK.

According to The Telegraph, Michael Gove should make a final decision on the Whitehaven mine by July 7, but the development of the situation may force him to hurry, and he will announce his position as early as mid-May, sources say. It is already clear that a positive decision is fraught with further proceedings in court with environmental associations, the newspaper writes.

Former British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stated that by the end of 2022, the country will refuse to supply coal and oil from Russia, and stop gas imports as soon as it becomes possible.

The intention of the British authorities to open a new mine in the last 30 years lies in line with their general policy, no doubt industrial expert Leonid Khazanov.

“They are convinced that foggy Albion is sitting on a raw material needle created by Russia, and restrictions on the import of oil, natural gas and coal can cause great damage to our country. The idea may be great, but there is one nuance – the profitability of this mine will depend on coal prices. Now the cost of coal is high, but there is no guarantee that it will remain at this level for a long time. So, this mine, most likely, will balance on the verge of profitability. It should not be forgotten that large coal deposits are depleted in the UK, so their development has come to naught in a few decades. The probability that new ones will be found is almost zero. Therefore, the reserves of the future mine may be enough for 10-15 years and it is unlikely that it will completely replace the supply of coal from Russia.

“SP”: – Is it possible to assume that the government will subsidize coal production based on political considerations, because they already went to the cost of their economy, imposing unprecedented sanctions against Russia?

— The idea of ​​subsidizing coal production is not new, but it is difficult to say whether the country’s government has the capacity to do so. After all, the British economy already bears serious costs due to sanctions against Russia, and there are enough people dissatisfied with rising prices for almost everything. And here also coal mining will have to be subsidized …

I am not sure whether the UK budget will have enough margin of safety for such a “noble” goal – as sanctions expand, its economy will stagnate, leading to a drop in tax revenues. There may be enough money in the budget for issuing subsidies to one mine, but perhaps no more to support 10-20.

According to Sergei Pravosudov, General Director of the National Energy Institutethis issue should be considered, rather, in the historical and political context, rather than economic.

— The British act according to the old historical logic of the West. Let’s take a little look into the past. When the European economy began to require iron on an industrial scale, they began to actively burn wood. All this led to the fact that forests were cut down on the continent. Then they mastered the extraction of coal, oil and gas incrementally. But some time ago, supporters of the point of view suddenly became more active and began to gain political weight, that all these types of fuel are terrible, they spoil the environment and it is necessary to switch to other, carbon-free energy sources, which, they say, are the future.

“SP”: – At the same time, they bought these types of fuel, including from us, but stopped producing them at home.

– And there is. And Western countries began to declare in unison about a certain transition to “clean” renewable energy sources. But as soon as our special military operation in Ukraine began, they immediately began to forget their intentions and reasoning. Moreover, the first signal was even before the start of the operation, last fall, when gas prices rose sharply. Then the traders, taking advantage of the fact that the gas storages of Europe were poorly filled, decided to earn extra money and inflated the cost of blue fuel.

“SP”: – Was it a blow to the plans of the previously advertised “ecological transition”?

– Exactly. In European countries, they decided to lower gas prices and suddenly began to “remember” that they could still burn coal, fuel oil, although environmentalists became indignant. Now gas prices remain high – Europe continues to burn coal. Then they will remember that you can burn firewood, because this is also a renewable energy source. Forests, they will say, have grown since the old days, which means they can be burned. And in general they will burn, use as fuel, everything that is possible.

“SP”: – Ecologists can protest more actively.

– It is unlikely that they will listen much. All means are good to bring down gas prices and reassure voters. People are outraged by the fact that energy prices are rising, living standards are falling, and they don’t understand what is happening at all – some explanations will be needed. From this one should proceed in order to understand the logic of the British. No environmentalists will be listened to when it comes to preventing mass discontent.

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