The Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) has ordered Poland to immediately stop the extraction of lignite coal at the Turow coal mine, while it processes a lawsuit filed by the Czech Republic against the mine’s operation.

The Czech government had filed a lawsuit in the top court in February 2021 alleging that Poland had infringed EU law by extending the mining licence.

Located in the Bogatynia region, the Turow mine has been in production since 1904.

Poland has been accused by the Czech government of adopting a measure that enables to grant a six-year extension of a lignite mining permit without undertaking an environmental impact assessment.

The Czech government alleged that Poland had violated the EU directive on the assessment of the impacts of certain public and private projects on the environment.

However, the Court of Justice said that it is yet to make a final decision on the case.

The court stated: “It appears sufficiently likely that the continuation of lignite mining activities at the Turow mine before the final judgment is delivered is likely to have negative effects on the level of groundwater in Czech territory.”

Owned by Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), the Polish coal mine is located 20km northwest of the Czech city of Liberec.

Last month, Poland’s Climate and Environment Ministry extended the license for the Turow coal mine to 2044. The mine, which was acquired by the Polish government in 1947, has seen several extensions.

PGE had previously warned that a sudden closure of the coal mine, which is a major employer alongside the nearby power plant could trigger an economic collapse in the province and also disturb the stability of the Polish power system.

The mine supplies lignite to a power plant that delivers nearly 5% of Poland’s power, Reuters reported.