On 18 March, Andrey Belousov, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister, and Sergey Tsivilev, Governor of the Kemerovo region, held meetings at SUEK Taldinskaya-Zapadnaya 1 mine on coal mining development measures and the social and economic development of the region.
Before descending the mine, the guests were shown around the company's dispatch centre. Then, they visited the working face of 400-metre longwall equipped with the most advanced mining equipment, including a DBT mine transport unit, an Eickhoff SL 900 shearer and sections of JOY RS25/55 powered roof support.
In the mine, Vladimir Artemiev, Chief Operations Officer of SUEK and Evgeniy Yutyaev, General Director of SUEK-Kuzbass, told the guests about various aspects of underground coal mining.
"The most vivid impression is the utmost respect for the people who work there," Andrey Belousov said when back on the surface. "It has always been this way. I was raised with an idea that a miner was a heroic occupation, like an officer. But when, as they say, you touch it with your own hands, this feeling becomes even more intense. Therefore, the people who work there deserve the best. Everything must be done to ensure a decent life and a decent salary for these people. Today, this is primarily linked to export coal sales in the eastern direction. I have come here, as we are going to make a very serious decision, but in order to make this decision, you need to feel it a little. It helps. This is one reason. Another reason was to bring here my colleagues, the Minister of Transport and the head of Russian Railways, so that they also feel a little of what the work of a miner is."
Kuzbass Governor Sergey Tsivilev thanked the members of the Russian Government for their attention to the situation in the region. "Before visiting the underground mine, we flew over the open-pit mines. We looked at construction in progress and the Kuzbass development. Then, we descended the mine, talked to miners and immersed ourselves in the Kuzbass reality," he said.
Andrey Belousov and Sergey Tsivilev also visited the company's canteen where they talked with miners over dinner. The topics of this discussion were a sharp drop in energy prices and the development of mining towns.
"We all have children. We need to advise them what occupation is the best for them. Of course, people want their children to follow their example. It means they must be sure that this coal company will last long and will have enough work for their children and grandchildren. So, we need to secure not just one year of coal export, but many years," Sergey Tsivilev shared the results of this conversation with the media.
The meeting dedicated to measures for the coal industry development was also attended by Yevgeny Dietrich, Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation,, Anatoly Yanovsky, Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation,, Oleg Belozerov, CEO and Board Chairman of Russian Railways, and representatives of coal mining companies from Kuzbass.
At the end of the meeting, the participants signed an addendum to the document on cooperation to secure railway transportation of products manufactured in the region in 2019-2035. It was previously signed in the summer of 2019 during St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
"I believe, a very important breakthrough has been made, as we finally agreed on coal export in the eastern direction. This direction is the most demanded by coal companies. Since the beginning of this year, we have been witnessing a decline in transportation of 1 Mt compared to last year. We have agreed that it will be made up in the near future," Andrey Belousov commented.
The parties agreed on the transportation of at least 53 Mt of Kuzbass coal in 2020 and on a monthly distribution of traffic in the eastern direction, based on the need for ongoing railway repair and construction. In addition, they will determine the optimal logistics for unloading the railway infrastructure, with empty rolling stock gradually being removed from railway tracks.
"Today’s agreement on the transportation of coal from Kuzbass to the Eastern Polygon is the first joint development step, a serious compromise decision. Despite the decrease in shipping over the past two months, this year our traffic volume in the eastern direction should be no lower than last year," Sergey Tsivilev said.