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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 14:49 GMT
German plan to close coal mines
Map showing coal producing areas in Germany
Germany has agreed a deal to phase out the heavily-subsidised coal mining industry in the country.

No date has been set yet for ending the subsidies to the industry, but they are widely expected to finish in 2018.

German coal mines have been receiving up to 2.5bn euros ($3.2bn; 1.65bn) annually in subsidies from the federal and regional governments.

Germany's eight coal mines employ 36,900 people, and produced about 21 million tonnes of coal last year.

'No redundancies'

The deal to phase out subsidies was agreed by the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, and the heads of the two parties will discuss the proposal later.

Federal Economy Minister Michael Glos said the plan would not involve any operational redundancies.

In an interview on ZDF Television he added there was no need for any worker to fear "being thrown onto the street".

The move will also pave the way for industrial group RAG - which owns the mines - to float on the stock market.

Money raised from the move will be used to pay miners' pensions and an environmental clean-up in mining areas. Germany's mines are concentrated in the north west of the country.

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