Landslide devastates Amynteo coal mine, village, PPC plans

The northern Greek village Anargyroi will need to be expropriated as a result of a devastating landslide at the Amynteo coal mine, close to Florina, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has told villagers at a local gathering.

A legislative amendment intended to enable swift expropriation procedures for the village locals will be carried out this week, the Athens News Agency reported.

The landslide has caused multiple problems for the main power utility PPC, ranging from its ability to keep perform lignite mining operations in the area to a prospective unit sale list that must be prepared by the dominant electricity producer and supplier as a bailout requirement.

PPC needs to prepare a sale list of lignite-fired power stations representing 40 percent of its total capacity. This list was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of this month but doubts have now crept in.

PPC’s two lignite-fired power stations at Amynteo, whose capacity totals 600 MW, will be sidelined for as long as the mine remains closed. The mine supplies both these power stations.

Both power stations were undergoing maintenance work and expected to reopen in October or possibly sooner if the heightened electricity demand anticipated during the summer months required their contributions to the grid.

Four excavating units, whose value is estimated at 50 million euros, were damaged by the landslide, while the mine is estimated to possess 30 million tons of lignite, which, at a price of 20 euros per ton, would be worth between 500 million and 600 million euros.

PPC officials have yet to make a precise evaluation of the overall damage. This will not be possible until the millions of tons currently covering the mine are removed. This will be a time consuming process. Once cleared, utility officials will be able to determine whether future mining activity at the mine remains feasible, when work could recommence, and under what conditions.

“Never before have I experienced such damage,” a PPC mining engineer told energypress, adding that the damage for the utility would reach hundreds of millions of euros. Much will depend on the extent to which the mine’s deposit has been fragmented, the official noted.

PPC employs 600 persons at the Amynteo mine. The utility will keep paying their wages for as long as the mine remains shut, PPC has informed.

Prior to the landslide’s devastation, the Amynteo lignite-fired power stations were estimated to have 17,000 hours of life remaining. Plans had been made for the units to operate over the next two winter seasons, in 2018 and 2019, for the extraction of as much of the mine’s 30 million tons of coal as possible. All calculations are now up in the air.

Just months ago, China Shenhua Group, one of China’s biggest coal and energy trading corporations, had expressed an interest to participate in the upgrade project of the ageing Amynteo facility, despite its limited operating time.

The prospects for the Amynteo lignite-fired power stations have changed as transporting coal from other locations would entail an enormous cost.