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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ministry to Present Plan to Fix Coal Troubles

While warning Russia could expect more mine strikes, Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Kiriyenko said Tuesday he would soon offer a blueprint for dealing with coal industry troubles.

The measures will call for "an additional program of funding" beyond current draft budget provisions, Kiriyenko said.

"The situation is critical," he said at a briefing after visiting the Kuzbass. "More strikes are inevitable."

Kiriyenko said his ministry would present its plan to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin by Feb. 15. The proposals will seek structural changes aimed at separating production costs from social security expenditure, he said. He said this was the key to resuscitating the industry.

Russia loses about $3 billion a year due to the industry's inefficiency, he said.

"By confusing mines with institutions for social security, we end up suffering these losses," he said. But the draft federal budget did not relieve the mines of social costs and "it will be up to the government" to find funds.

Kiriyenko also blamed the industry's ills on habitual nonpayment of energy bills by state companies.