Hundreds of miners are rallying in Prague to pressure the government to allow the expansion of brown coal mining in northern Czech Republic.

Facing the environmental damage, a legacy from the communist era, the government set limits for the mines in 1991. The limits were also meant to guarantee that no other towns or villages would have to be destroyed due to the mining, as happened under communism.

The miners rallying Thursday fear losing their jobs, as major surface mines would have to be gradually closed if the limits are not broken. They are supported by labor unions, mine owners and some members of the current center-left government. Brown coal is mostly used for heating.

The government is to decide on the issue later in the year.