JSW at the European Economic Congress

Dozens of discussion panels, hundreds of speakers and thousands of attendees: the European Economic Congress 2019 is held in Katowice again. A significant part of the discussion was devoted to mining.

Mining was one of the topics of the meetings that opened Day 2 of the Congress in Katowice, especially in the context of decarbonization and the business conditions on the coal market. Participants of the discussion devoted its portion to the summary and forecasts related to coal mining and the demand for “black gold”. They arrived at the same conclusions: despite the international discussion on the departure from coal as an energy source, demand for this fuel continues to increase and the industry continues to change. - It offers stable jobs and pays billions in taxes to the state’s coffers. For example, JSW has already ventured into coke oven gas projects in the energy industry, or the use of hydrogen. We do realize that this sector has human resources that will allow it to build modern industry – said Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Vice-Minister for Energy in his opening statement.

The panelists – representatives of mining companies and their cooperating entities – also emphasized the problems that the mining sector currently faces. - Each one of our decisions must be thought through. We are aware of the problems with raising the financing – the panelists noted. These problems are shared by the mining companies, both those that mine steam coal as well as those that focus on coking coal. - In our case, the structure of our production output is important; about 2030 we should reach approximately 80 percent of coking coal, however much depends on the profits and the mining and geological conditions – Artur Dyczko, representative of the JSW Management Board explained to the attendees of the panel. - In this situation, ensuring access to the deposits is critical. Today we are convinced that after 15 years of our efforts, we have been successful in making all the arrangements and we will receive a concession for the Bzie-Dębina Zachód 1 deposit next week.

The solution to the industry’s problems was also common – we must emphasize the use of modern technologies, because today the mining industry faces the problem of deep seams, geological conditions and distance from shafts. - Automation is here already; this trend in the mining industry promotes efficiency and competitiveness. It is critical to adapt the technology to individual needs on a case-by-case basis. The “Zofiówka” mine is a good example, where excellent progress has been achieved in the preparatory works because of such individual preparation. This is the only way that cooperation between a technology supplier and the user may bring about good results – emphasized Mirosław Bendzera, CEO of Famur SA.

Innovation was another face of the mining industry presented during the European Economic Congress. Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa stands out among mining companies, which was shown during the panel entitled “Electromobility/Gas/Hydrogen – what should we develop and how to finance such development?”. The experts believe that 2019 may be a breakthrough year for electromobility. Clean fuel is its most contemporary element. - Our hydrogen will be produced without CO2; we want to produce environmentally-friendly hydrogen in the Silesia region – said Tadeusz Wenecki, CEO of JSW Innowacje, during the panel. - We want to separate it from the coke oven gas produced in our Group’s plants in the coal coking process. It is a new technology; we are following models from all around the world, mainly from China.

During the panel, a joint project by JSW and the City of Katowice was announced, to launch the first regular bus line in Poland operated by a hydrogen-fueled vehicle. - The signs of times can be observed in our city – added Bogumił Sobola, Vice-President of Katowice.- We placed our bets on electric buses, but JSW’s pioneering project is also very important.

​On the last day of the European Economic Congress, the debate focused on the future of the mining industry, on the opportunities created in the sector by the latest technological trends. Both the speakers and other participants of the discussion panels agreed that the pace of changes driven by technical development and changing legislation (mainly in the field of environmental protection) is changing completely the previous approach to the industry. – The future of coal is based on… chemistry – said Jacek Srokowski Vice-President of the Management Board of JSW Innowacje.

At present, the JSW Group does not only develop the existing directions for the new applications of coal, but it creates new trends itself.  - The era of the traditionally defined mining industry is slowly coming to a pass. In order to develop, this sector must itself become the leader of innovative and environmentally-friendly technologies – said Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Vice-Minister for Energy.

The plans of JSW, presented several times during the Congress, included the manufacture of carbon fiber, absorbents or nanotubes using the byproducts of the coking coal and coke production processes. An even more pioneering project is building an installation for the industrial separation of hydrogen from coke oven gas generated as a byproduct in the coke production process, which will be the first installation in this part of the world. – In this case, the challenge is even greater, because although hydrogen is called the fuel of the future, there is currently no demand for hydrogen in Poland. This is why JSW plays an active part in the development of the hydrogen users market by establishing cooperation with bus and locomotive manufacturers – said Jacek Srokowski.

During the panel discussions, experts noted the increasing economic feasibility of innovative and environmentally-friendly carbon-based technologies. What is even more important, this should be a continuing upward trend for the industry. – These investments also prepare mining companies for the difficult times of bad economic conditions on the commodity market – noted Artur Dyczko, the JSW Management Board representative on strategy and development.

Innovation in the mining industry does not only improve the image of coal but the entire mining industry as well. During the discussion on the raw material policy, it was strongly emphasized that the industry must be very careful about how it is perceived also by its local communities. – It is particularly important for us to build partnership contacts and a positive climate of cooperation with local government authorities. They are important partners for us – Artur Dyczko emphasized.

Photo Gallery: (Marta Stach / EEC2019, JSW)