PRAGUE, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Czech coal miner New World Resources (NWR) will explore with the state the option of extending the operation of its Paskov mine by two years beyond a planned closure date at the end of 2014, it said on Monday.
NWR, looking to slim down its operations and cut costs as part of a plan to return to profitability, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Czech state on Monday that sets a March 31 deadline for an agreement.
Paskov is operated by NWR subsidiary OKD, which also runs three other hard coal mines in the northeast of the country.
“In this context the parties will explore the option of OKD extending the operation of the mine until 31 December 2016 ... after which ownership of the mine will be transferred to the Czech State for a symbolic 1 crown ($0.05),” NWR said in a regulatory filing.
It said this would be subject to conditions, such as European Commission approval.
Newspaper Pravo, citing a document approved by the government, reported in December that state help to close the mine could reach 1.3 billion crowns ($64.23 million).
NWR said in September it would close the mine, which employs 3,000 people in the country’s industrial northeast, a region already suffering from high unemployment, by the end of 2014.
The Industry Ministry has been looking at options that could prolong the life of Paskov, even though Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok has said the government had no plans to buy, operate or subsidise the loss-making operation.