March 28, 2014 / 4:45 PM / 6 years ago

German state to review longevity of RWE brown coal mining

* State to look at Garzweiler II mining area beyond 2030

* Aims to conclude talks with operator RWE, region by mid-2015

* Supplies raw material for electricity generation

FRANKFURT, March 28 (Reuters) - Germany’s North Rhine Westphalia state will study whether its Garzweiler II brown coal mining region should be operated beyond 2030, state premier Hannelore Kraft told reporters on Friday.

Talks with the operator, utility RWE and representatives of the mining region about the long-term future of the mine - which was needed up to 2030 - would follow and should be concluded by the middle of next year, she said.

RWE, which currently is set to operate there until 2045, in October denied a report it was considering early closure in 2017 or 2018 of the mine, which produces feedstock for RWE’s brown-coal-to-power generation plants.

The company affirmed at the time it would press ahead with restructuring, due to the unprofitable wholesale market for electricity, which has worsened since then.

RWE in a statement on Friday said its previous statements remained valid.

RWE operates thousands of megawatts of brown-coal-to-power capacity in the state and needs local supplies to fuel it, producing between 35 and 40 million tonnes of coal annually.

Garzweiler II, a 48-square-km area, according to RWE houses 1.2 billion tonnes of brown coal.

Brown coal allows the use of domestic raw materials to create round-the-clock electricity in Germany’s industrial heartland but is under fire from environmentalists for the high carbon dioxide volumes it emits.

A rise in renewable power installations also undermines the role of conventional power from fossil fuels.

Garzweiler feeds raw material to RWE’s power plants G and F at Neurath, among others, which since opening in 2012 have been among the world’s biggest and most modern brown-coal-to-power blocks with a joint capacity of 2,100 megawatts. (Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, writing by Vera Eckert, editing by Dale Hudson)

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