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Official Journal Reference

C 67 of 1994-03-04

Legislative Reference

To protect the environment efficiently; to improve public understanding of the role of coal as an energy source; to improve the competitive position of coal; and the rational utilization of Community resources.


Article 55 of the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) requires the Commission of the European Communities to promote technical and economic research relating to the production and increased use of coal and to occupational safety in the coal industry. The funds derived from the levies on ECSC products may be used to finance this research and the results of such research must be made available to all concerned in the Community.

Guidelines laid down by the Commission for Community-funded technical coal research from time to time have oriented the programme towards better achievement of the objectives of current Commission policy.

The results of Community research in the fields of both mining technology and coal utilization to date have enabled the European coal industry to make significant progress through cooperation at Community level. However, in the context of the establishment of the European Union, and with the recognition by the Council of the European Communities of the need to work towards phasing out the regime established by the ECSC Treaty by the year 2002 while bringing ECSC research activities within the EEC framework, a further rationalisation of the coal research programme is seen as necessary. The guidelines lay down new objectives for coal research that take account of these changes and the aims and objectives of other community programmes related to solid fuels in particular in the fields of non-nuclear energy (JOULE II), the steel research programme, research on health and safety in the ECSC industries, and the THERMIE programme.

The main technical fields covered by the programme are mining engineering, including mining operations and mine infrastructure and management, and coal utilisation, including coal preparation, coal conversion and combustion and gasification of coal.


Environment Protection:

- Coal Mining:
. Methods for the control of methane emissions and utilization of mine gases;
. Minimization of dirt production and increased use of dirt as a raw material;
. Exploitation and reclamation of spoil tips;
. Abatement of water pollution: minimization of effluents from mines and coal preparation plants by recycling and reuse of water;
. Avoidance of the use of potentially harmful fluids in mining equipment;
. Control of subsidence.

- Coal Utilization:
. Improved understanding and prediction of gaseous, liquid and solid emissions, and development of improved economical techniques for their control;
. Improved efficiency to reduce emissions of CO2 and other pollutants;
. Reduction of pollution from coking plants;
. Utilization of residues and behaviour of residues at disposal sites;
. Clean transport, handling and storage of coal;
. Clean coal use technologies.

- Information to the public and decision makers.

Improvement of competitive position of coal

- Reduction of coal production costs:
. Improved reconnaissance by e.g. integration of new reconnaissance techniques;
. Improved planning, modelling, integration, management and control of operations;
. Improved shaft sinking, roadway drivage and support techniques;
. Improved techniques for coal winning;
. Improved mining services: increased mechanization and automation of transport, development of continuous transport systems.

- Product Quality:

. Improved methodology for the selection of coal seams and for coal quality control in coal preparation plants;
. Limitization of size degradation in mining;
. Improved coal preparation;
. Improvement of handlability of coal;
. Blending of coals for special purposes;
. Improvement in the production and quality of manufactured fuels.

- Reduction of the cost of coal utilization:
. Conventional and advanced power generation;
. Development of integrated systems;
. Combined heat and power systems;
. Reduction in the cost of pollution control technology;
. Improvement of reliability, availability and thermal efficiency;
. Improvement of performance, operation and control.

Rational utilization of Community resources:

. Conditioning of coalfields;
. Evaluation of the feasibility of accessing partly-exhausted coal reserves;
. Methodology for the economic assessment of reserves;
. Study of dynamic phenomena and the application of geophysics for deep mine developments.


All enterprises, research institutes or individual persons interested in engaging in research, within the meaning of Article 55 of the ECSC Treaty can make an application to the Commission of the European Communities for the grant of financial assistance. The programme operates on an annual basis, the total funding available in the ECSC operational budget being determined by the Commission in consideration of the annual receipts and the priorities with regard to expenditure. Application should be made before 1 September in any given year in order to be considered for the following year's programme, unless specified differently in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The Commission will shortly introduce a system to facilitate the processing of proposals where proposals are presented on standard computer readable diskettes.

The following criteria are taken into consideration in the selection of research projects for financial support by the ECSC: - the objectives of the research programme, - the objectives of the common energy policy and of the general research policy (with particular reference to energy research), - the interest of the research for the Community, - the repercussions of the research on the environment, and - the lead time between the completion of the research and the practical application of the results.

Priority will be given to research projects offering prospects of demonstration and replication of technology under development. Cost effective solutions will be given preferences, even in cases where the research relates wholly to the protection of the environment. Priority will, in general, also be given to projects which involve collaboration between Member States although it is recognized that this is not always possible due to differences in factors such as geological conditions.

Details of grant applications and research in progress are treated on a confidential basis by the Commission but in line with the requirements of Article 55 of the ECSC Treaty regarding the availability of research results to all concerned in the Community, the final reports on completed projects are published. Great importance is attached to the need to use all appropriate means of communication to give a positive image of coal, coal products and the use of coal, and to the need for rapid dissemination of research results in a directly usable form.

Problems of health, safety and working conditions in mines are the subject of a separate ECSC research programme but these issues cannot be divorced from technical development and must be given appropriate consideration in all research in the field of mining technology. Although the research programme is mainly of an applied nature, consideration will also be given to basic research into coal use as a means of ensuring adequate understanding of existing processes and with a view to preparing for the future by supporting specific topics of research.


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