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The Lignite Center of Western Macedonia

Photographer: Yannis Kolesidis

 

Thousands of people work every day under harsh conditions in a landscape where brown coal dominates. Ash, dust and dense clouds of smoke from burning coal cover the sky at the 160 square kilometers Lignite Center of Western Macedonia that belong to Greece’s state-owned Public Power Corporation (PPC), and the second largest in Europe.

 

Lignite is considered the black gold of Greece and accounts for 30 percent of the country's energy supply. Eighteen power plants of total capacity of 4.388 MW, producing 52.1 percent of the country's electricity, operate in the center, which extends from the city of Florina to the city of Ptolemaida in western Macedonia region where entire villages such as Charavgi, Klitos and Komanos were expropriated and their inhabitants removed so that the mines could be extended.

 

George Adamidis, president of workers association Spartakos stated during an interview that workers endanger their health: 'life expectancy for those working in the lignite center is 67 years compared to the average in rest of the country which is around ten years more. Meanwhile, the government is proceeding with the sale of a 30 percent of the PPC to private stakeholders, including part of the mines from the lignite center, in order to give an end to the electric power monopoly. As a result, workers have to cope with the difficult labor conditions on the one hand and the danger of losing their job on the other hand as PPC is the main job provider in the area.