WARSAW, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Inhabitants of Imielin, a town in the southern coal region Upper Silesia of Poland, protested on Saturday against a new coal mine set to be built under the town, which they say would threaten their homes.
The new mine, dubbed Imielin North, is planned to be built by Polish Mining Group (PGG), the largest mining company in Poland. Earlier this year, the regional environmental authorities gave a green light to build the hard coal mine, which would involve digging under part of Imielin, at a depth of 180 meters.
The 9,000 strong town of Imielin is atypical for the Upper Silesia region, being a relatively green town where most locals live in independent homes - unlike most other mining towns in the region which are dominated by blocks of flats.
PGG had already been mining in the area, and locals have for years been complaining of shaky ground and damages to homes.
"We had assurances that the mine would not grow outside of its present area so people were not preparing for larger damages," Tomasz Lamik, a former chairman of the city council in Imielin, told media earlier this year.
"But then we were informed that the new Imielin North deposit will be exploited. Nearly half of the town lies on its planned surface. The extraction is to begin in 2020 and will last until 2046. They want to dig at a depth of only 180 metres, using the cheapest possible method. The ground is expected to sink by at least 6 meters. It was a shocking news," Lamik said.
On Saturday, locals formed a human chain around the main square of Imielin, to protest against the mining plans.
"We are protesting against the devastation of our homes and town infrastructure, against the destruction of the natural underground water reservoirs, and against the pollution of the environment and deepening of negative climate change caused by extraction of coal," the organisers from local association Green Imielin wrote in a social media post announcing the protest.
Upper Silesia is Poland's main hard coal mining region, where many of the locals have been depending on mining for many decades. Local authorities in Imielin have been opposing the opening of a new mine and have prepared a vision of alternative development, but coal giant PGG has argued that coal mining was necessary to ensure the country's energy security and that they would take measure to secure the homes and protect the environment.