slovenia_round_icon_640Since its foundation in 1991, the Republic of Slovenia has enjoyed steady economic growth and, between 2000 and 2008, the country’s primary energy consumption increased by 40% to reach 11.1 Mtce.  Since this peak, energy consumption has fallen by an average of 2.4% per year to 9.4 Mtce in 2015, reflecting slower economic growth.



General data







€ billion


Resources of lignite and brown coal in Slovenia are estimated to be 1 268 million tonnes, lying at Velenje (370 million tonnes), Zasavje (68 million tonnes) and Goričko (830 million tonnes), with mineable reserves accounting for 120 million tonnes.  Approximately 45% of the country’s primary energy requirements are met by imports.  Indigenous lignite production accounted for approximately 12.7% of primary energy supply in 2015, with imported coal bringing coal’s total share to 16.0%.  Oil had a share of 34.8%, nuclear 22.4%, biofuels and waste 10.7%, natural gas 10.1%, hydro 5.0% and the remaining 0.9% came from renewable energy sources.

The key elements of Slovenian energy policy are closely aligned with the priorities of the European Union, such as a national plan for renewables and a plan to improve energy efficiency.  In the long term, coal and lignite are expected to be partially replaced by renewable energy sources and coal imports will reduce.  PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE will continue its lignite production until 2054 as lignite is needed in the currently well-balanced energy mix for security of supply reasons.

At 37.4% in 2015, nuclear power accounted for the largest share of electricity generation in Slovenia, followed by coal and lignite (29.0%) and hydro (27.1%).  All other sources have rather small shares, totalling 6.4%.


There is one lignite deposit exploited in Slovenia at Velenje, in the north of the country.  The Rudnik Trbovlje Hrastnik (RTH) underground coal mine in the Zasavje region of central Slovenia stopped production in March 2014 leading also to the closure of the nearby Trbovlje (TET) power plant.  More than 135 workers lost their jobs.

In 2015, Slovenia produced 3.2 million tonnes of lignite and brown coal.  Velenje mine is the only coal mine in Slovenia and the major part of its lignite output is used at the nearby Šoštanj power plant.  Operated by PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE and employing a unique mining method, it is one of the largest and most modern underground mines in Europe.  The mine is located in the Šaleška dolina Valley and boasts one of the thickest-known lignite seams in the world, at more than 160 metres.

The company’s long-term strategy is to operate the mine until 2054, as it is likely to remain Slovenia’s only exploitable energy resource.  The majority share of Velenje coal mine belongs to the state-owned HOLDING SLOVENSKE ELEKTRARNE (HSE) who also owns the 1 304 MW Šoštanj (TEŠ) thermal power plant as well as hydro power plants.

Imported coal is mostly used at the Termoelektrarna Toplarna Ljubljana (TE-TOL) heat and power plant in Ljubljana, covering over 90% of the capital’s heat demand and 3% of its power demand.

Taking into consideration the increasing demand for electricity, the risks of energy import dependence and the abundant coal reserves at Velenje, HSE has commissioned a new 600 MW unit at Šoštanj thermal power plant.  Unit 6 uses the best available techniques (BAT) to achieve an efficiency of more than 43% and deliver CO2 emission reductions of 35%, as older units are replaced.  The new unit ran for the first time in 2014 and was fully commissioned in May 2015 prior to receiving an operating permit in February 2016.  Unit 6 will have a significant economic and environmental impact in Slovenia by ensuring lower electricity prices and lower emissions.

PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE is a technologically well-developed and strongly integrated company with a 140-year tradition in lignite mining.  In 2007, the company received a special award from the Slovenian Chamber of Engineers for its innovative approach to mining engineering.

The “Velenje mining method” is performed by top caving hanging seams.  The very first long-wall faces appeared in 1947, quickly followed by the extensive introduction of long-wall faces in 1952.  The basic approach is to extend the lignite extraction area above the protected area at the face.  The “Velenje mining method” is a registered trade mark and has been proven to be the most effective method for extracting thick coal seams.  PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE continues to develop this method in order to gain even more improvements.

The knowledge and products of PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE offer excellent opportunities for co-operation with other countries, particularly where there is a need to introduce new technologies in Europe (e.g. in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey) and further away in the Asia-Pacific region.

PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE is also a partner in many projects funded by the EU Research Fund for Coal and Steel and the 7th Framework Programme, which aim to develop new technologies for predicting gas and rock outbursts and gas emissions from thick coal seams, for example.  PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE also has a long history in underground coal gasification.

PREMOGOVNIK VELENJE has always aimed to prevent and eliminate any negative environmental impacts of its operations and has played an active role in land rehabilitation and air/water protection programmes in the Šaleška Valley.  The company regularly monitors its environmental impacts, but the clearest testament to sustainable development is the tourist and sports resort that has been developed around the man-made lakes above the mine.


Coal resources and reserves



Resources lignite


1 268

Reserves lignite



Primary energy production



Total primary energy production



Lignite (saleable output)

Mt / Mtce

3.2 / 1.2

Saleable coal quality



Lignite net calorific value


11 300

Lignite ash content

% a.r.


Lignite moisture content

% a.r.


Lignite sulphur content

% a.r.


Coal imports / exports



Hard coal imports



Lignite imports



Primary energy consumption



Total primary energy consumption



Lignite consumption



Power supply



Total gross power generation



Net power imports (exports)



Total power consumption



Power generation from lignite



Lignite power generation capacity


1 304




Direct in lignite mining



Other lignite-related



* e.g. in power generation, equipment supply, services and R&D