World Bulletin/News Desk
Pro-Russian separatists control more than half of the coal mines in eastern Ukraine, forcing the Ukrainian government to begin importing coal from South Africa.
Ukraine agreed with South Africa to import one billion tons of coal till the end of the year, according to a statement from the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry.
85 thousand tons of coal were already shipped to Ukraine on Thursday to be used at thermal power plants, the statement said.
"The government operates less than half of the coal mines in the country, while pro-Russian separatists control more than half of them," Yuriy Prodan, Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal Industry, explained on Friday during a speech to reporters.
He added that 83 out of 150 coal mines are located in regions that the Ukrainian government does not control, allowing pro-Russian separatist take over them instead.
Mikhail Volinets, head of Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, announced that pro-Russian separatists dismissed officials at the coal mines and replaced them with their own people.
Volinets also claimed that a certain amount of coal produced by the pro-Russian controlled mines had been sent to Russia and the rest of the produce used at the thermal power plants they control.
"Ukraine could have produced 30 million more tons of coal, but due to clashes in the east of the country we could not produce the necessary amount. 16 million tons of this production should have been used for thermal power plants," Prodan continued.
Ukraine produces an annual average of 80 million tons of various types of coal.
The country has been suffering from gas shortages due to its conflict with Russia over gas prices as well as due to a shortage of coal production.
In the January-August period, Ukraine's coal exports automatically decreased by 26 percent
Thus, the government is planning to import 4.5 million tons of coal to be able to operate thermal power plants during the winter.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ekim 2014, 12:15