The last miners in Slovakia

The last miners in Slovakia

The loss of workplaces at the mine is only part of the story, the chief of staff said. Job opportunities have already been created in recent years, says Falco, such as at auto parts manufacturer Brose, which creates 1,200 workplaces. Even if you look at the unemployment rate – 5 percent – the region is not in bad shape. But to prevent people from leaving, something has to change, Falco says: The quality of life has to improve. The municipality wants to invest the money in education – as there is no university in the area – and stimulate small businesses. “You can have vacancies, but who's going to fill them if people don't want to live here?”

Lenka Elcikova, of the environmental NGO CEE Bankwatch, says too much attention to social and economic changes in the region obscures another important shift. “The environment fades into the background.” Social concerns are always more important than climate concerns in Slovakia. Although the municipality of Prievidza and HBP will soon use water from the mine as a heating source, gas will remain the main source of energy in the winter. Elcikova believes that the local government is missing opportunities here. “But the fact that the mine is closing is of course excellent news.”

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