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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Coal Mine Closing Delayed

The Russian government's plans to dose down loss-making coal mines will be delayed for two to three years by concerns over worker's welfare, officials said.

Alexander Kuznetsov, an official in the Fuel and Energy Ministry's coal department, said none of the 42 mines slated for closure would be shut down until the government develops a plan to relocate and retrain workers.

Boris Azimov, one of the principal authors of the Russian Coal Company's mine closure program, said that the 42 mines account for only 3 percent of the national coal output while using 8 percent of the industry's 800, 000 workers.

Deputy Labor Minister Yury Shatyrenko said that the government had not worked out how to prevent mass unemployment. "It's like withdrawing troops from Germany, even harder", Shatyrenko said.

He said miners who work at the Halmer-U mine in the northern region of Vorkuta are living in one settlement, and that the whole population will suffer if the pit closes. "We can't just abandon people in the tundra", he said.

Twelve union leaders in the town of Vorkuta announced a hunger strike Monday after the draft program became public.