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Mining District Turning to Renewables

Trbovlje, 16 June (STA) - The central region of Zasavje, long in decline due to the gradual winding down of coal mining and withering of dirty industries, plans to turn to renewables to create jobs in the future.

A step in this direction was made on Wednesday, when director of the Trbovlje-Hrastnik coal mine (RTH) Ales Berger and Rober Golob, CEO of energy company Istrabenz Gorenje, set up the joint venture Vitales RTH.

The new company, producing woodchips, will create over 30 new jobs in the initial phase and act as a key successor to energy companies in the region, Berger told the press.

The facility will be built on land owned by the coal mine and will be using the mine's 400 hectares of forest.

Berger said that the Trbovlje-Hrastnik coal mine had well-trained staff which would be reposted to Vitales RTH after the mine shuts production in 2012 and fully closes in 2015.

"We're glad that we've found an experienced partner for the production of woodchips and that we'll be able to implement the strategy for creating new jobs in Zasavje based on renewable energy sources," he pointed out.

Golob said that both companies had contributed equal shares of the EUR 50,000 in start-up capital and that they would split all rights and obligations.

The project will be carried out in several phases and will also include turning the Trbovlje thermoelectric power plant into a woodchips-powered plant. To produce electricity, the plant will burn 100,000 tonnes of woodchips a year.

Glob expects Vitales RTH to annually produce 100,000 tonnes of woodchips and 20,000 tonnes of wood briquettes in the first phase and extend production to pellets later on.

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