Europe’s largest coking coal producer suspends production at two mines

Polish coal miner Jastrzebska Spólka Weglowa (JSW), the largest coking coal producer in Europe, has suspended production at two of its mines following the steep increase in new Covid-19 cases among its workers, the company said on Monday June 8.

JSW will temporarily halt coal production at the KWK Budryk and KWK Knurów-Szczyglowice mines from June 9 to June 28 due to the worsening of the epidemic situation in the Silesia region, Fastmarkets understands.

“Despite taking special precautionary measures, such as screening tests among miners, the infection have spread in several mines. That is why we are taking extraordinary actions today,” deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin said.

“At the current stage of the epidemic, the rational solution is to limit the work in these mines as much as possible because we don’t want to create potential outbreaks of coronavirus where there has been little risk so far,” Wlodzimierz Herezniak, president of the board of JSW, said.

As of June 9, 2020, there were 2,990 cases of coronavirus confirmed in the mines of Jastrzebska Spólka Weglowa.

Concurrently, the rest of JSW’s mines remain carrying out orders from contractors on a regular basis, with the punctuality, quality and volume of deliveries to recipients at the highest level, JSW said.

JSW runs five coking coal mines: Borynia-Zofiówka, Budryk, Jastrzebie-Bzie, Knurów-Szczyglowice and Pniówek – all in Poland.

JSW supplies coke and coking coal to many European steel companies, including ArcelorMittal and Thyssenkrupp, and in 2019, JSW produced 14.8 million tonnes of coal and 3.1 million tonnes of coke, it said.

The production suspension at JSW’s mines will not result in a coking coal or blast furnace (BF) coke shortage in the European market, however, market participants that spoke to Fastmarkets said.

This is because European steelmakers have been gradually limiting and stopping production and idling equipment, while demand for steel has declined drastically due to the lockdowns and quarantine measures implemented across Europe to combat the spread of Covid-19.

“The production halt at JSW’s mines will not hurt its clients because producers in Europe have either stopped blast furnaces or limited their production to as minimal a level as possible,” one source in Poland said.

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