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30 years of the Budryk mine

Before the first ton of coal was extracted from the Budryk mine on 14 March 1994, 15 years had passed since the start of the construction. Governments changed, political systems in Eastern Europe changed and new states were created, borders changed, and the construction of the mine continued. Several times during those 15 years, there was a threat that the project would be discontinued. The reason was mundane - lack of money during the period of declining communism and the beginning of the political and economic transition. However, the difficulties were overcome. This year, 14 March marks the 30th anniversary of the mining of the first ton of coal.

photo: Dawid Lach

“The effort and persistence paid off. The Budryk mine is an important center for the economic environment. Some of the money earned by the workers goes through various routes into the circulation of the surrounding economy. Imagine this economy poorer by several hundred million zlotys a year," says Zbigniew Czarnecki, director of the Budryk mine. “Only last year the municipalities under which we mine coal received more than PLN 3.8 million in mining fees from the coal extracted,” the director adds. 

“We work with 34 companies, 19 of which perform surface work, while 15 companies provide services underground. The work on the surface performed by external companies is mainly related to the operation of storage lots, the loading and transportation of materials, and construction and modernization work on surface facilities. The work carried out underground in the mine is mainly related to the cutting of longwall parcels, the excavation of strategic workings, i.e. technological drifts on the 1290 level and ventilation pits connecting shaft VI in the Budryk mine with the "Aniołki" shaft in the Knurów Section. In addition, the companies perform work to maintain the functionality of the workings by rebuilding them, reinforcing them, and pit floor scraping. The mine has also outsourced the operation and maintenance of a very important technological line, which is the main belt haulage, collecting winnings from all the mined longwalls and excavated working faces,” says Wiesław Chyłek, the mine's technical director. “Employees of these external companies have jobs thanks to the existence of the mine. They get salaries in their companies and also spend them in the region. We work with contractors who are buyers of the end product, commercial coal. Coking coal is delivered to 3 domestic and 4 foreign customers, while steam coal, which is becoming a minority product, is shipped to 3 domestic customers, the technical director adds. 

Dreams of greatness
It all started in the 1970s. The mining ministry's development plans called for production of 200 million tons of coal in 1979 and about 290 million tons of coal in 1990. Budryk was to be one of several mines planned for construction to make the execution of the plans possible. The project was valuable because it was expected to increase coking coal production. It was planned in the reserve area of the Zabrze Coal Industry Union (Ornontowice mining area, Paniówki mining area and Chudów mining area). The area has been analyzed many times by the Katowice Mining Project Bureau and the Zabrze Coal Industry Union. Concepts evolved and eventually, in February 1978, the Mining Project Bureau in Katowice was instructed to develop a "Study for the Construction of the Ornontowice Mine" according to the concept of the Zabrze Coal Industry Union. After approval by the Standing Specialist Group, it became the basis for the development of the Technical and Economic Assumptions for the Construction of the Ornontowice Coal Mine, later Budryk. 

Based on Directive No. 33 of the Minister of Mining of 14 November 1978, a state-owned enterprise was established under the name "Budryk Coal Mine under Construction." The Directive stipulates that the company's object is to conduct coal mine construction within the framework of national social and economic plans. The new name of the mine was given to honor the world-renowned scientist, Professor Witold Budryk, a lecturer at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków.

The Budryk Coal Mine under Construction began operations on the basis of an anticipation loan (for next year's depreciation), granted to pre-finance expenditures related to mine construction. The loan was at the disposal of the Knurów Coal Mine, the first investor in the Ornontowice mine, and then KWK Budryk under construction. The normative act authorizing the construction of the mine was Resolution No. 134/78 of the Council of Ministers of 15 September 1978. It set the mine’s target production capacity at 20,000 tons of coking coal per day in 1991, with first production in 1984, and granted a loan of approx. PLN 20.5 billion. It was agreed that the mine would be located in the reserve area of the Zabrze Coal Industry Union on an area of 35.3 square kilometers.

The report stipulated that the mine would extract type 34 and 35 coking coal from two levels - 1,000 and 1,150 meters at 10,000 t/d net from each level. The mine's total headcount was to be 10,360 people, according to records. The total capacity measured in terms of commercial coal at target mining and headcount should be 2.5 tons per worker per day.

 

Investment project thriller
In 1978, the management of the mine was appointed. The work on the KWK Budryk construction site began on 21 December 1978 in the area of shaft VI. The first team of mine workers, along with management, began operations in February 1979. It was headquartered in a building built with own resources behind the Knurów mine management building, where the second floor was occupied. 

The year 1989 was a time of political breakthrough, galloping inflation and one of many dramatic periods for the Budryk Mine under construction. As money quickly ran out, the construction was discontinued, and in October 1989 the government decided to halt the project for a year. This was to be the time for the government to analyze the viability of building the mine. Little was missed, and work would have been halted for good. However, a decision was made to continue the construction by obtaining a bank loan guaranteed by the Government. Subsequently, the Ministry of Industry and Trade decided to incorporate the mine into the Gliwice Coal Company. This did not solve the financial problems. The Shareholder Meeting of the Gliwice Coal Company established a joint stock company, Kopalnia Węgla Kamiennego w budowie S.A.. However, the bankers were still adamant. Therefore, in January 1994, the mine was transformed into a wholly-owned State Treasury company. On 14 March the first ton of coal was extracted. This was not the end of the financial troubles. The next stages of the battle to save the mine are given in the timeline. Budryk's situation has been stabilized since the mine was incorporated into Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa. By Resolution No. 1 of 20 December 2007, of the Extraordinary Shareholder Meeting of Kopalnia Węgla Kamiennego Budryk Spółka Akcyjna, the mine became part of the structure of Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa. The decision was signed by the Minister of Economy.

 

The social melting pot
Budryk provided work for miners from liquidated Silesian and Zagłębie mines. The differences were large. Even in professional nomenclature. Over the years, a close-knit team was formed as generations were exchanged.

“The mine has become a permanent fixture in the traditions of the surrounding area thanks to, among other things, initiatives aimed at integrating the workforce and the local community. To mark the 30th anniversary of the mining of the first ton of coal, we have prepared a series of side events. Instead of great pomp, we propose a series of team-building events, such as descents of women underground. Miners’ wives and partners will be able to see under what conditions men work. Of course, in the celebration program there is also a place for official meetings, but without any pomp," says Adam Ratka, director of labor at Budryk. “The celebration program was prepared by the mine's employees. We have not engaged any PR agency. This is one of the proofs that Budryk has a close-knit team," stresses director Ratka. 

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