The energy system’s transition away from coal will leave miners with the equivalent of 100 job cuts daily through 2035, mostly in China and India.
(Bloomberg) — The energy system’s transition away from coal will leave miners with the equivalent of 100 job cuts daily through 2035, mostly in China and India.
Mine closures will eliminate about 15% of global coal mining jobs by that year, about 400,000 in total, according to a new report published by Global Energy Monitor this week. The figure is likely to rise to nearly 1 million by 2050 as the world turns to cheaper wind and solar power generation.
The job losses highlight some of the social challenges that companies and governments face as they transition the world away from fossil fuels in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Mining jobs lost to automation, efficiency and commodity cycles have become thorny political issues from the US to Europe to Australia.
One way to ease the pain of layoffs is to give ex-miners priority for job opportunities triggered by mine shutdowns, such as work needed to rehabilitate land and mitigate environmental impacts after operations cease, according to the report.
China produces and uses more than half the world’s coal, and is home to more than 1.5 million mining jobs, according to Global Energy Monitor. Its Shanxi province alone is likely to shed more than 240,000 mining jobs through 2050. China’s government has been pushing firms to gradually replace underground workers with automated machines in part to ease the social cost of future mine closures.
Coal India Ltd., the state-owned miner that produces more coal than any other company, is likely to face the biggest corporate impact from layoffs, with potential cuts of nearly 74,000 workers by 2050, according to the report.
The firm has already seen its headcount dwindle from 310,000 in 2017 to 240,000 this year, according to company filings. Its staff count is falling by about 13,000 to 14,000 people a year, a pace that’s expected to accelerate due to retirements and outsourcing work that will limit new hiring, company officials have said.
–With assistance from Rajesh Kumar Singh.
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