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Coal in Hungary

AUTHOR: Sarah Benson
DATE: October 1999

Hungary was the first country in the region to begin the restructuring and privatisation of its energy sector. Its energy policies are aimed at ensuring security of supply and improving energy efficiency and the environment, with a view to preparing the sector for entrance into the EU. Coal is Hungary's most abundant energy resource and there are estimated reserves of 2.9 Gt of lignite, 1 Gt of brown coal and 0.6 Gt of hard coal. Coal production declined sharply from 1987 onwards, reflecting the economic problems which would lead to the break up of the then Soviet Union. The coal industry has been forced to undergo a strict programme of restructuring and privatisation due to the collapse of the mining industry in the early 1990s. This has resulted in the closure of many mines and loss of jobs. In 1998, Hungary produced 14.8 Mt of coal. Around 90% of coal production is brown coal and lignite. Additional coal demand is met by imports. The use of lignite with high sulphur content has caused severe air pollution, a problem which is only now being addressed.