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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

50,000 Families to Be Resettled

Russia plans to resettle about 50,000 coal miners and their families who have spent most of their lives in remote far-northern areas but now face early retirement as pits close down, senior coal industry officials said Thursday.

"We do not intend to throw anyone out on the street. No one has been fired," Yury Malyshev, head of the state producers' group Rosugol, told a news conference.

"We have to resettle about 20,000 families from Vorkuta and about 50,000 families as a whole from northern regions," he said.

The government had allocated 300 billion rubles ($140 million) this year for resettling families in more hospitable areas further south, although not all of this sum had been received, he said.

"We really only began this work this year. We have already acquired a total of 1,800 flats but we think the main developments in this direction will be in 1995 and 1996."

Many of the miners will come from the far northern Vorkuta region, where loss-making mines are due to close as part of a nationwide restructuring plan aimed at boosting productivity. Russian coal output fell to 305 million tons last year from 338 million in 1992 due to the depletion of resources and a lack of cash for investment in deteriorating infrastructure.

Rosugol says 37 mines and one open-cast pit have to be closed. The Khalmer-U mine in Vorkuta has already been closed and others are winding down operations.

Rosugol deputy head Georgy Krasnyansky said coal enterprises were in a difficult financial situation but 20 billion rubles ($9 million) had been spent in the past year on building new homes in 34 Russian cities.

About 500 families have been resettled so far in a complex operation involving industry officials, trade unions, banks and construction companies, he said.

"We are talking of veterans here who have worked all their lives in the north and are now impoverished in conditions of hyper-inflation," he said.

Krasnyansky said the resettlement program would last several years, with homes being made out of existing but unfinished construction projects.