Spain to close most coal mines by end of 2018

Spain will close most of its coal mines by the end of the year after government and unions reached a deal that will see €250 million invested in mining regions over the next ten years, The Guardian reported today.

Pedro Sánchez’s new administration reportedly moved quickly on environmental policy, killing a controversial solar industry “sunshine tax”, and announced a national climate plan will be launched in November.

The mining deal covers Spain’s privately-owned pits, and mixes early retirement plans for miners over 48, environmental restoration initiatives and re-skilling plans for green industries.

Over 1,000 miners and subcontractors will be out of work when 10 pits close by the end of 2018.  Many of the sites were uneconomic, and the European Commission provided over €2 billion in aid to keep some of the sites open temporarily.

About 600 workers in Spain’s northern mining regions – Asturias, Aragón, and Castilla y León – will be able to benefit from social aid under the scheme, while approximately 60% of the miners may opt for early retirement.

Spain’s coal industry employed more than 100,000 miners in the 1960's, but its energy dominance was eroded by cheap imports and the industry’s environmental, health and climate costs. National coal provides just 2.3% of Spain’s electricity, the Guardian reported.

In 2016, 23,000 early deaths in the EU were reported from coal-plant pollution.