Lom, West Bohemia, June 30 (CTK) – Several hundred people from various European countries protested against fossil fuel mining near the Bilina brown coal mine and the police arrested 234 activists over unauthorised entry of the mine today.
The Bilina mine stopped operating after 16 activists climbed up a huge excavator and chained themselves to it early this morning.
“We had to stop mining to minimise the risk that somebody would be harmed,” said Lukas Kopecky, spokesman for the Severoceske doly firm that operates the mine.
The operation of the mine resumed after 12 hours. The activists left the excavator after 15 hours, around 20:00, and the police drove them away for questioning.
Kopecky said no mining machinery was damaged.
He said this has been the fifth protest march this week and no problems have occurred until today. He said the mine can resume its operation only after it is guaranteed that no unauthorised persons are on its premises.
The activists refused to leave and the police will deal with the situation in cooperation with the mining authorities.
Further activists left the planned route of a protest march later this morning and tried to enter the mine, but the police arrested them after they refused to return to the permitted route.
The remaining few hundred of activists shortly supported those who entered the open-pit mine by shouting slogans and displaying banners. Then they completed the planned march and returned to their base near the coal-mining town of Litvinov where a five-day event has been organised since Wednesday.
The activists also planned to protest against some of the coal-fired power plants in the region, but none of these protests have been staged so far.
The five-day meeting on climate change, power industry and alternative energy resources, called the Klimakemp and organised by the Limity jsme my group, wants to stop burning fossil fuels all over the world.
“We are here because of climate change. This is why we are here, in the coal mining region. This is why we are protesting. We use civil disobedience because standard means are not enough,” Aron Tkadlecek, from the group, said this morning.
The group’s name Limity jsme my (We are the Limits) refers to the limits imposed on the mining of brown coal in northern Bohemia by the Czech government in 1991. The possible extension of mining beyond the set limits has been repeatedly discussed in the country.
The activists managed to enter the Bilina mine already last year during the first Klimakemp meeting. The mining company did not adopt any special measures in relation to the planned march of the environmental activists.