Edward Szewczak, spokesman for the city hall in Wałbrzych, warns that since last year, several new, illegal coal pits have appeared in the city and its surroundings. – You dig a bag of coal and earn PLN 500 – he describes. He points out that poor pits are no longer used – as in the 1990s – to extract raw materials for personal use, but are a source of income for organized groups.
– These are no longer poor windows, but business windows. People earn good money from the coal dug out this way. You dig a bag of coal and earn PLN 500. This is not the phenomenon of the so-called poor pits from the 1990s, when people dug for their own use because they could not afford to buy one. Now it is an organized group that makes money from such digging, said Edward Szewczak, spokesman for the city hall in Wałbrzych.
He added that illegal coal mining in makeshift shafts is increasing in the area. He said that since last year, when coal prices suddenly skyrocketed to as much as PLN 3,000. PLN per tonne, several new, illegal coal pits appeared in Wałbrzych and the surrounding area.
A difficult fight against poor shafts
As he emphasized, there are problems with eliminating this practice for two reasons. Firstly, the coal is very shallow underground and in many places “after digging a shovel into the ground, you immediately find a seam that is easy to extract.”
– The second issue is the fact that currently these new excavations are being built on private land or on land that does not belong to the commune or the State Treasury. The last ones were created in allotment gardens, which is why the owner, i.e. ROD, is obliged to fill in such excavations and prevent further operations – said the spokesman. He emphasized that years ago the city hall and other services declared war on the so-called poor shafts and consistently combat this dangerous phenomenon, because the pits left after mining – often quite deep – were a threat and contributed to accidents.
“It’s hard to catch someone red-handed”
– Our services cover glass panes in the city’s territory very quickly and efficiently. They do this with such heavy material that they make further digging impossible. However, we cannot use the city’s money to do the same on foreign lands – private or belonging to other entities – explained Szewczak. He emphasized that a joint patrol has been operating for many years city guard and the police, who effectively track down new mining sites and people involved in them.
– These people who make a business out of it are known to the patrol. However, it is difficult to catch them in the act, especially when they operate on private property. When an intervention occurs, they usually run away, abandoning bags of coal and shovels, Szewczak said.
Main photo source: TVN24 archive