Czech electricity producer ČEZ has said that it will not make a binding bid for the German coal mine and power plant assets of the Swedish-based power company Vattenfall. CEZ said that low wholesale electricity prices and uncertainty over whether brown coal power plants might have to be closed early deterred it from making a bid. The state controlled company added though that it was still prepared to talk about other options for the German assets. Separately, Czech Coal said it had made a bid for the assets. Later, Czech energy group EPH said it made a joint bid along with the PPF Investments company.
The Czech Cabinet on Wednesday approved a doubling in the charges that mining companies must pay for open cast mining of brown coal. The increased charges could result in around 400 million crowns in extra annual revenues for the state. Some of those revenues could be used to restore some of the damage caused by open cast mining according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The increased charges will not affect deep mining charges which will remain unchanged.
The Czech government has tasked the Ministry of Environment with preparing a new law to cut the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, including oil, coal, and natural gas. The move was agreed on condition that steps will not undermine economic competitiveness. Environment groups have long been pressing for the step saying that it is needed to meet European climate change goals by 2050 but arguments had continued within the government whether just a broad concept or law would be required. Use of fossil fuels is already set to decline under an already agreed energy framework with such fuels set to cover just over half of the country’s energy needs by 2040.
Over 200 people committed suicide in the Czech Republic in 2015 by throwing themselves under trains, according to information issued by the Railway Infrastructure Administration on Tuesday. A total of 234 people died on Czech railways last year, which was 44 percent fewer than in 2014. Material damage linked to the railways more than doubled in 2015, largely due to a single crash involving a train and the body of a truck in the Moravian town of Studenká that left three dead.
Miners’ unions on Friday decided to widen their strike alert from the Paskov mine, which is slated for closure before the end of the year, to the whole of the OKD mining company, the head of the association of mining unions Jaromír Pytlík told the Czech Television on Friday. The unions are threating to strike over the lack of a social programme to help laid-off miners. They also complain about the lack of information from the management. Paskov belongs to the OKD mining company which is in severe financial difficulties and has announced the planned closure of three mines.
The regional court in Nový Jičín on Wednesday sentenced Polish driver Slawomir Sondaj to 8.5 years in prison for his role in a fatal train crash in the Moravian town of Studénka last year. He also recieved a 10-year driving ban. Three people died in the high-speed collision and dozens were injured. The train smashed into the trailer of driver’s lorry, after the man ignored warning lights and drove onto the crossing.
The Prague embankment Smetanovo nábřeží was evacuated on Tuesday afternoon because of a gas leak. Around 200 people were ordered to leave Charles University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, a spokesperson for the Prague fire service said. Cars were also prevented from using the route. A spokesperson for Pražská plynárenská gas company said a faulty connector had been to blame for the problem, which had been brought under control.
The Czech government has definitively called an end to negotiations with the ailing mining company OKD. Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek on Wednesday advised the company to file for bankruptcy and said the government would now focus exclusively on helping the thousands of employees to be laid-off.