In many Silesian cities and even more in the villages, there is still a strong belief that a mine is the only place where one can get a stable job. Miners risk their health and lives, but in return they enjoy steady paychecks every month, social insurance, early retirement (at age 44 instead of 65) and many other benefits. Those who own a business or farm, on the other hand, can never be sure how much they will earn every month. That’s why the residents of Bzie-Debina are so enthusiastic about a coal discovery and plans for a new mining shaft in their village.
Mining experts believe that Silesia’s largest coal layer contains a vein of coal near Jastrzebie-Zdroj, in the field of Czeslaw Pastuszek. Pastuszek had some of the best soil in the neighborhood; he grew cereal grains there. But when he was asked to rent his field for coal operations, he didn’t hesitate. And it wasn’t just the money that convinced him. “These amounts are not so high, after all,” Pastuszek told the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. “I was thinking more about my son. He will live close to his future job place.”
He sees his son’s future in mining. His own farming business is too risky. “The whole hope is in the hole,” he says. There has been no new mine shaft in Silesia for 30 years. Instead, mines were closing and jobs were disappearing. Now everything has changed. Coal is now considered a more economic source of energy, as gas is getting more and more expensive.
The coal discovery in Bzie-Debina indicates that the mining industry in Poland is in good condition. Currently, there are 37 working mines in Poland, 36 in Silesia and one in the Lubelskie region. Financial woes struck the mines in the 1990s, and many miners lost their jobs. The economic situation for mines started to improve about 2004. Now there is a shortage of workers in this sector. Thus young people’s attitude toward mining has changed. New mining schools are being opened, as there are more and more people who want to do that job.
The occupation of miner jumped up to fifth place in the ranking of the most prestigious occupations in Poland. In return, mining students are very pleased that the new coal layer has been discovered in Bzie-Debina, as it guarantees that there is a future in mining. Gazeta Wyborcza reports that new mining operation will start producing coal in 2017. A drill was rented by Zofiowka mine, which is part of the Jastrzebska Coal Co. It has drilled a hole 270 meters deep and should reach a kilometer in depth by the end of the year. Then miners will be able to examine coal and rock samples, they will estimate the size of the layer and choose the technology for constructing the new shaft. When the mine begins operations, it will extend the life of Zofiowka mine for another 82 years.