Coal mining has been an important part of the Jiu Valley for the last 150 years, but in recent years the economic viability of its coal mines has decreased. Mine closures since 2000 have been accompanied by social disruption, high unemployment, strikes and protests.
Coal mining in the Jiu Valley
The Jiu Valley is Romania’s principal coal mining region. Two other areas in Romania have some surface mining, while the Jiu Valley contains deep shaft underground mines. Providing only 12% of the Romania’s supply of coal, the Jiu Valley is the only region in Romania both completely urbanized and reliant on a single industry. Coal mining has been long been the heart and economic lifeline for the Jiu Valley.
By 2000, the population of the Jiu Valley was estimated to be between 160-170,000 inhabitants, largely concentrated in the region’s six mining towns – Petroşani, Lupeni, Vulcan, Uricani, Petrila, and Aninoasa, but also including small villages such as Câmpul lui Neag and Lonea. In the late 1990s eighty percent of the workforce still depended upon the mines for work and income, and by 2015 this number was still high, although the economic demographics of the region had undergone significant changes in recent years, particularly with the admittance of Romania into the European Union in 2007.
For a history of the Jiu Valley and coal mining, see the Wikipedia (en/ro) article.
Mine closures, population and unemployment
In 1990 there were 15 active mines in the Jiu Valley: Câmpul lui Neag*, Valea de Brazi*, Uricani**, Bărbățeni*, Lupeni, Paroșeni**, Vulcan, Aninoasa*, Iscroni*, Dâlja*, Livezeni, Petrila**, Petrila Sud*, Lonea Pilier*, and Lonea.
A timeline for activities related to the mines is as follows:
- 1991 Autonomous coal authorities (Regia) were established following the abolition of CMVJ and a process of comprehensive restructuring and reorganization was begun.
- 1994 Lonea Pilier Mine (Lonea) ceased activities.
- 1998 On November 20, 1998, exploitation of Jiu Valley coal was separated from the activity of the Banat coal mines, and the Romanian Government established the National Hard Coal Company (CNH) (Romanian: Compania Naționala a Huilei), headquartered in Petroșani, to administer the mines. Also established were the companies Centrul de Calcul Electronic Petroșani (Computing Center Petrosani), Unitatea de Administrare a Caminelor si Cantinelor Valea Jiului (Management Unit of Jiu Valley hostels and canteens), Atelierul de Proiectare Tehnica (Technical Design Workshop), and Retehnologizare (Refurbishment).
- 1999 Câmpul lui Neag (Câmpul lui Neag) and Petrila Sud (Petrila) Mines ceased activities.
- 2003 Dâlja Mine (Petroșani) ceased activities.
- 2004 Valea de Brazi Mine (Valea de Brazi, located near the town of Uricani ) ceased activities.
- 2006 Aninoasa (Aninoasa) Mine ceased activities.
- These six closures were followed by the closures of Bărbățeni (Lupeni) and Iscroni (Aninoasa) mines.
- 2012 On November 26, 2012, the Romanian legal entity Societatea Naţională de Închideri Mine Valea Jiului S.A. (National Society of Jiu Valley Mine Closures SA) was established and owned by the State (the sole shareholder represented by the Ministry of Economy) to serve as an acţiuniîşi company operating under Romanian law.
By March 2015 there were seven active mines: Lupeni, Vulcan, Livezeni, Lonea, Uricani, Paroșeni, Petrila. Four of these mining units are considered to be profitable (Lupeni, Vulcan, Livezeni, Lonea) and operate within the Hunedoara Energy Complex (CEH). Three of these seven (Uricani, Paroșeni, and Petrila) have been designated as unprofitable and are slated to be closed by 2018, operating within the Jiu Valley National Society for Mine Closure (SNIMVJ). [http://cronicavj.ro/wp/?p=15645]
Through mine closures, forced layoffs and voluntary severance, the number of actual miners in the Jiu Valley has decreased considerably. The mine closures were accompanied by large numbers of lay-offs of miners. It is estimated that in 1989 there were some 40,000-50,000 mine workers (including both actual underground miners and auxiliary workers). The number of mine workers in the Jiu Valley in 2000 was estimated to be between 18,000-20,000, this number decreasing by some sixty percent during the previous ten-year period. Approximately 25% of these total mine workers worked above ground. The impact on unemployment has been considerable, and with eleven of the original fifteen mines closed by 2018, the immense social disruption is only going to increase.
* 8 mining units closed between 1994-2015: Câmpul lui Neag, Valea de Brazi, Bărbățeni, Aninoasa, Iscroni, Dâlja, Petrila Sud, and Lonea Pilier.
** 3 mining units considered to be unprofitable (Uricani, Paroseni, Petrila) are operating within the Jiu Valley National Society for Mine Closure (SNIMVJ) and are to be closed by 2018.
∼ 4 mining units considered to be profitable (Lupeni, Vulcan, Livezeni, Lonea) are operating within the Hunedoara Energy Complex (CEH).