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Most miners at Poland's biggest coal company recover from COVID-19

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's biggest coal producer, state-run PGG, said on Wednesday that most of its infected miners have recovered from the novel coronavirus, as the company relies on government support to see it through the crisis.

Polish coal mines have struggled with the rapid spread of the virus, with the mining region in southern Poland accounting for at least half of new daily cases throughout much of May and June. PGG had reported 1886 cases as of Wednesday.

On June 8 the government halted output at 10 PGG mines and at 2 mines owned by coking coal producer JSW to stop the spread of the virus, with normal operations expected to resume on July 3.

"The epidemic in PGG is expiring and the under control," PGG said in a statement, adding that as of Tuesday, 82% of its infected workers had recovered.

PGG was already struggling with rising coal stockpiles as demand for coal and electricity fell, and the pandemic has added to its financial problems.

Chief Executive Tomasz Rogala said at the start of June that the company had enough cash to pay salaries until July.

The company, which did not provide a detailed update on its financial situation, estimates that cost cutting and government emergency support measures will amount to around 312 million zlotys ($78.35 million).

"The situation is extremely dynamic," Rogala said in a statement published on Wednesday.

The government is working on a restructuring plan for the industry and sources said in June that Poland is considering closing at least three mines as the pandemic forces it to accelerate its exit from the sector.

($1 = 3.9819 zlotys)

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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