Spain is already preparing to say goodbye to the coal, the most polluting way to generate electricity at this time. On the one hand, The European Commission does not allow mines that need public aid to operate as of January 1. On the other hand, the owners of the thermal power plants that burn the coal to produce the electricity also face a closing process since it is not profitable to undertake the works for clean the smoke expelled by its thermals.
The most imminent closure (and in many cases has already occurred) is that of mines. Therefore, the Council of Ministers approved on Friday a royal decree law that includes aid worth 100 million euros for just transition policies, that is, to give an exit to the affected workers. In October, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, the majority unions and employers (Carbunion) signed a framework agreement for the period between 2019 and 2027. But, to develop it and be able to offer aid to workers who will lose their jobs soon or that they have already lost it, the royal decree approved this Friday was necessary.
The agreement has two axes. On the one hand, the conditions are lowered in order to be able to access pre-retirement and incentive pay. On the other hand, a job bank will be created for non-pre-retired employees (which will also include subcontractor workers).
This bag will serve, among other things, to undertake the closing and environmental restoration work of the mines that close. These processes, which usually last for years, employ many workers. But, in the case of private companies, most of these companies are already in bankruptcy proceedings, which means they can not access public aid to undertake the restoration. The royal decree will serve, explain government sources, to fill this gap.
Parallel to the approval of the royal decree, unions and public company Hunosa, which operates in Asturias, have also reached an agreement. Of the three coal extraction wells the company now has, two will close on January 1. The third party (San Nicolás, in Mieres) will continue to operate because it does not require public aid nor has it received them, according to sources from that company.
Brussels not only states that they must close in 2019 the deposits that can not work without public funds; Neither can the mines that have received public money from 2011 continue to be open if they do not return it. At the moment, of the 15 private companies that are included in the framework agreement signed in October, only eight are still operating, government sources explain. Most of them are open-pit operations, which have much lower costs than gallery costs. As of January 1, all must close or return the public money they have received in recent years.
The closure of the mines (and that of the power plants) is raising concern in several affected communities. The Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, and her Secretaries of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán and José Domínguez, are scheduled to meet next week with the presidents of Castilla y León, Aragón and Asturias, the three most autonomous regions. affected.