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200 meters left to reach the missing workers in the Pniówek mine

In the first half of September, rescue workers will go to retrieve seven miners and rescuers missing after last year's Pniówek mine disaster. This was the information provided by the management of Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa at a press conference yesterday (20 June). Prior to the start of the conference, another meeting of the State Mining Authority's special commission was held to explain the causes and circumstances of the Pniówek disaster.

photos: Dawid Lach

Safety issues at JSW mines and progress in reaching workers underground after last year's mining disaster. These are the main topics of the meeting with journalists held in Katowice.

- We are working deeper and deeper, in increasingly difficult conditions, and the risks are becoming greater - noted Tomasz Cudny, President of the JSW Management Board. - The safety of our employees is the most important thing for us, prevention costs money, and we spare no expense on it. The numbers speak for themselves. Last year we spent PLN 1.14 billion and plans set for the first quarter of this year have already been exceeded. Through massive expenditures on prevention of natural hazards, we strive to create the best possible working conditions for our employees so that our miners feel safe - assured CEO Tomasz Cudny.

JSW's mines have modern machinery and equipment, often controlled and monitored by IT systems to improve safety.

- Our cooperation with Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa has lasted for many years. JSW has been consistently implementing monitoring systems for the work of powered support sections in its mines for many years. This allows us to track and monitor the work and the correctness of longwall mining in real time. We also provide training for JSW's employees, and we jointly implement large international projects on, among other things, the green and digital economy, as well as on reducing methane emissions - said Prof. Stanisław Prusek, Director of the Central Mining Institute.

Miners are equipped with increasingly better tools and personal protective equipment. Despite this, mining disasters are not avoided, such as those last year at the Zofiówka Section and the Pniówek mine. Seven workers are still missing in Pniówek. In order to reach them, it is necessary to excavate a new, less than 350-meter long roadway, parallel to the dammed longwall. Work to this effect has been going on for several months. So far, more than 120 meters of the roadway have been excavated, and the remaining more than 200 meters are expected to be completed by mid-September.

- The ongoing excavation of an additional roadway, which will be used to access the area of the longwall where the missing workers are located, is the most optimal and safe way to conduct the operation. This working will ultimately serve as a road from which we will conduct penetration in the form of rescue operation. We believe that in this way we will reach our missing employees - said Edward Paździorko, Vice-President of JSW's Management Board for Technical and Operational Matters, at the press conference. This stage of the rescue operation is planned for the first half of September.

The Station is already preparing rescuers to carry out the final stage of the operation, which will be to reach the missing workers. In addition, gas concentrations in the dammed area are being monitored all the time - said Piotr Buchwald, President of the Management Board of the Central Mining Rescue Station in Bytom, and added that reaching the missing miners by excavating a new roadway serves primarily to achieve proper air circulation in the workings so that penetration is safe for rescuer workers.

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