Endesa SA, the Spanish power company owned by Italy’s Enel SpA, was cleared by environmental regulators to expand its Puertollano open-pit coal mine and run the operation for another 30 years.
The company proposed sufficient measures to mitigate effects on the environment including air and water quality, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment said in an order in the Official Bulletin. The expansion will open an estimated 11.2 million metric tons of additional coal reserves to be dug at the project in central Spain, between Madrid and Cordoba.
Coal, the most polluting fossil fuel widely used to make electricity, is the only one Spain produces domestically on a large scale. While successive governments have for decades helped the industry stay in business with aid, the European Union has ordered such subsidies for “uncompetitive” coal mines stopped by 2018.
Endesa’s mine is run by its Encasur unit and supplies coal to two nearby power plants -- EON AG’s Puertonuevo station and Ecolgas’s syngas unit. The pit lies just a mile (1.6 kilometer) south of the town of Puertollano, and the expansion would uncover 1.7 square miles of adjacent land.
Additional government approvals are necessary for the project to proceed. Endesa hasn’t made a final decision on the plan, according to a spokesman for the Madrid-based company who comments on condition he not be identified.