From Extraction to Mining

Karolína Žižková

Summary: On the train journey between Kolín and Pardubice, the Chvaletice power plant on the left bank of the Elbe cannot be overlooked, not only because its chimney is the highest structure of this type in the Czech Republic. The power plant was built in places devastated by former mining operations, and it has also become known to the general public in recent years thanks to severe air pollution and disputes over obtaining an exemption from emission limits.

In 2010, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe issued the so-called Industrial Emissions Directive (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control), with the aim of unifying approaches to limiting water, air and soil pollution in Europe. CEZ originally planned to close the plant by the end of 2015. After the sale to Se.Ven Energy (then Litvínovská uhelná a.s.), reconstruction of all units began with the aim of extending the life of the plant by another ten years.

In July 2019, the We Are the Limits! movement organized a climate camp in Veltruby near Kolín, which moved directly in front of the power plant building. According to a statement by We Are the Limits!, the aim of the event was to draw attention to the fact that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the climate crisis. In August 2020, the exemption was granted again by the Regional Court in Ostrava. Local associations, municipalities, and environmental organizations appealed this decision to the Ministry of the Environment, which again revoked the exemption in March 2021. In August 2021, the emission limits went into effect. In November 2021, the Ministry of the Environment confirmed the granting of the exemption, for a period of six years.

At the time of writing, the most recent development in the dispute was the decision of the Regional Court in Ostrava on 7 March 2022, which revoked the exemption from the emission limits for mercury and nitrogen oxides on the grounds that the need for a six-year period to reduce emissions had not been demonstrated. The Chvaletice power plant will appeal against this decision again.

In the spring of 2022, the power plant communicates the situation in a way that refers to its opponents as “pressure organizations” and argues for the importance of the operation in the context of the war in Ukraine.

In the last two years, Chvaletice has appeared in the media in connection with the extraction of manganese. In 2014, a group of Czech companies were granted exploration and mining rights. According to the company, actual mining could begin in 2026, with on-site preparations planned to begin as early as 2023.

The municipalities of Chvaletice, Řečany nad Labem and Přelouč were concerned about noise, increased traffic, air pollution, dust and the overall impact of mining on public health. The project is currently undergoing an environmental impact assessment.